Monday, September 06, 2004

Empty out that medicine cabinet

If you already have recycling bins in your home for paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, it may be time to add one more -- for unused pills. We've long been advised never to share prescriptions with other family members, and to safely dispose of unused medications when they've outlasted our need. But now, given the high cost of those little capsules and tablets, more thought is being given to the ones we flush away. According to a Reuters report, the FDA is recommending returning unneeded pills to your pharmacist; states are setting up swapping programs; and patients are surfing the 'net hoping to find someone with the needed meds rattling around somewhere in the back of their medicine cabinet. I guess it makes sense from a cost- and resource-effectiveness point of view, especially for those who need large quantities of costly cures. But somehow, the knowledge that I may someday pop open a pill bottle and not know how long ago or for whom my prescription was originally prescribed doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. Will prescription drug plans eventually require retreads? Will fresh pills be at a premium? Pretty soon you'll be able to get recycled pills in a recycled plastic bottle with instructions printed on recycled paper. Only your illness will be original to you -- and that's only if you didn't catch it from somebody else.

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