THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The piling up of unused or expired drugs at homes is an issue to be tackled. They are often disposed along with other domestic wastes which which ultimately find their way to water bodies. Besides the unused drugs generated at homes, only 10 per cent of the unused drugs from retail markets are returned back to the manufacturing companies. As a solution, the State Drugs Department has planned to collect unused or expired drugs by installing 100 collection boxes in hospitals and other government offices in the city.
The first phase of the project will be implemented from Monday onwards wherein 100 collection boxes will be kept in places identified by the Drugs Department such as Medical College and Secretariat. The facility will be introduced in government complexes after the elections.
A first of its kind initiative, 'PROUD', programme on removal of unused drugs is initiated by state drugs department in association with All Kerala Chemists and Druggists Association (AKCDA). “ More than 10,000 crore of medicines are consumed in our country. But there is no proper disposal of medicines generated in houses. When unused or expired medicines pile up in houses, people dispose the same in public places which then seeps into water bodies. Through this initiative, we want to promote the scientific disposal of unused or expired drugs. Once implemented, the Drugs Department will ensure that the facility is utilised in an efficient manner,” said Ravi S Menon, state drugs controller.
Collection boxes will be labelled so that the authorities can track the product's trajectory. In the initial stages, AKCDA will bear the expenses of setting up the collection boxes and its maintenance. “We have also approached drug manufacturers as they have a provision to take back the expired drugs. Through the help of the tracking system enabled in the collection boxes, the medical shop from which the drug has been purchased can also be identified,” said Ravi.
All houses cannot do away with medical waste in the same way as others. In these collection boxes, people can drop capsules, ointments, dry syrup and tablets. The state drugs controller also added it is important to dispose the bio-medical waste safely and so they have tied up with Ramky Group in Mangaluru where the waste will be treated. “There are chances that the facility can be misused and medical waste comprising tonics and acids will be disposed. This will be regularly monitored and the collection boxes will be emptied by the agencies such as Kudumbasree to prevent recycling of medicines," he said.
Why prescription matters
Self medication can be highly dangerous. Minor infections are usually attended to without a prescription. Antibiotics are largely consumed without the doctor's word. Inappropriate use of these can lead to damage of internal organs. In order to create awareness about the use of antibiotics, the Kerala State Pharmacy Council (KSPC) is conducting an awareness drive in all the districts across the state. The drive will create awareness about the harmful side-effects of the unscientific and non-prescribed use of drugs along with the increased rate of anti-microbial resistance. “It has been noticed the public regularly self-medicate ignoring side-effects of the drug. Hence, we decided to conduct a drive on the use of antibiotics,” said OC Naveen Chand, president, KSPC.
Around 10,000 awareness sessions across the state will be conducted. District-level awareness sessions were conducted for pharmacists. For every district, there will be five coordinators and the team will include 40 pharmacist teachers who will spread awareness on the use of antibiotics, the right dosage and the harmful effects of using non-prescribed medicines. The pharmacist teachers will also take sessions for kudumbashree workers, pensioners and other organisations. The Kerala State Pharmacy Council will start the workshops in the city from May.