For people looking for more innovative ways to help the environment, Oakwood Healthcare has a tip: Stop throwing out old medications in the trash, or flushing them down the toilet.
Instead, this Friday, several Oakwood outpatient pharmacies will be celebrating Earth Day by offering proper disposal of old, unused medications.
The event will take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at the in Dearborn, and dropoff is free. Participants will also receive a coupon toward the purchase of over-the-counter products and general merchandise, and the first 250 participants will receive an eco-friendly tote bag.
Proper disposal is more earth-friendly than most medication users realize, said Oakwood Director of Pharmacy Jerry Petrosky.
“Many people think they’re doing the right thing by flushing old prescriptions down the toilet so they don’t get in the hands of children," Petrosky said. "But what they may not realize is that when they flush these drugs down the toilet, they are putting hazardous chemicals into the water supply which affects us all.”
There are two ways to dispose of medication, which expires one year after it is issued. The first, best way is to incinerate it.
The other is a little more complicated, said Robert Jarosz, manager of outpatient pharmacy services for Oakwood Healthcare. It requires that medication users place the medicine in a plastic bag and crush it with a rolling pin; then dissolve it in water and mix it with coffee grounds or kitty litter; funnel it into a plastic container such as a used milk jug, and then send it to a landfill.
“Even then, the chemicals can leach out and could potentially contaminate the ground water,” he said.
The expired prescriptions collected by OHS will be sent out to be incinerated, Jarosz added, which is better for the environment.
Oakwood started the program a year ago and it was successful enough to bring back in 2011. Jarosz said some sites received medicines that dated back to the 1990s.
By law, Oakwood pharmacies are not allowed to accept any controlled substances, such as Percocet, Vicodin, Valium, Xanax and other pain medications and sleeping pills. In addition, patient privacy has also been considered and any bottles with a label will be returned once the medication is disposed of properly.
Outside of Dearborn, additional participating locations include:
- Oakwood Healthcare Center, 7300 N. Canton Center Road, Canton
- Oakwood Healthcare Center, 15777 Northline Road, Southgate
- Oakwood Healthcare Center, 2001 S. Merriman, Westland
- Oakwood Southshore Medical Center, 5450 Fort Street, Trenton
- Oakwood Annapolis Hospital, 33155 Annapolis Street, Wayne
Oakwood pharmacists will be on-site and available to answer questions. Parking is accessible at all locations and valet parking will be offered free of charge at OHMC in Dearborn.
For more information about any of the Oakwood pharmacy locations, visit www. Oakwood.org/pharmacy or call (800) OAK-WELL.