Pharmaceutical disposal and the environmental fate of medication metabolites directly impacts the public's health in two significant ways: accidental medication ingestion of pharmaceuticals that were not disposed of properly results in inadvertent toxicity; and environmental health consequences of pharmaceuticals that were inappropriately disposed and which contaminate municipal water supply. In reviewing the effectiveness of medication disposal policy globally, it is crucial to not only determine which policies are effective but also to assess why they are effective. By assessing the root causes for a specific policy's effectiveness it can be determined if those successes could be translated to another country with a different health care system, unique culture and divergent policy ecosystem. Any intervention regarding pharmaceutical disposal would require a multifaceted approach beyond raising awareness and coordinating pharmaceutical disposal on a national level. While consumer participation is important, effective primary prevention would also include research on drug development that is designed to biodegrade in the environment as opposed to medications that persist and accumulate in the natural environment even when properly disposed. Countries that lack a nationalized disposal policy should leverage the resources and infrastructure already in place in the national health care system to implement a unified policy to address medication disposal in the short-term. In tandem, efforts should be made to recruit the biotechnology sector in high-tech and academia to develop new technologies in medication design and water filtration to decrease exposures in the long-term.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health