KOCHI: Pharmaceutical wastes generated by hospitals and pharmacies are effectively handled at IMAGE, Palakkad, a common biomedical waste treatment and disposal facility established by the Indian Medical Association. However, the disposal of expired and unused drugs from households was unacknowledged until recently.
The Kerala State Drugs Control Department in alliance with the All Kerala Chemists and Druggists’ Association (AKCDA) has decided to launch a project that would spread awareness of the overlooked yet hazardous effects of drugs on the environment thereby simultaneously gathering people to dispose their unused drugs efficiently.
“Pharmaceutical drugs are basically chemicals. Unlike other countries, ours does not have enough regulations in place that discusses the quantity of medicines used and unused, or the leftover drugs that remain in storage. There exists no post-marketing survey that would collect such details. Consequently, such an initiative was necessary,” said A N Mohan, president, AKCDA.
The task is that of a Himalayan one and requires continuous monitoring. “Suggestions to collect such wastes at IMAGE were put forward but they had already reached their ultimate capacity,” said Ravi S Menon, state drug controller. According to Ravi, as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, there existed no provision for the recall of unused drugs. “Kerala constitutes one-tenth of the total drug consumption in India. Expired products are either dumped in water bodies or landfills. Hence we’ve resolved to initiate a project that would ensure constructive disposal, especially that of antibiotics which are a leading factor in the growing anti-microbial resistance,” Ravi discussed.
As per the new project, kiosks would be placed at public places in which the public would be directed to deposit the expired and unused drugs. Special agents will be undertaking the task to collect drugs from the kiosks. The collected material would be then transported to a pharmaceutical waste treatment plant at Mangaluru.
“The Ramky group is currently shouldered with the responsibility of treating the medicinal waste at their plant,” said Mohan.
The pilot projects would be flagged off in two districts, namely Ernakulam and Thrissur. “Our main intention is to instill awareness that would be achieved with the help of Suchitwa Mission who in turn would have access to local bodies such as municipalities and panchayats. This would trigger the public in ensuring that medicinal wastes are appropriately disposed of,” said P V Tomy, president, AKCDA