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Pharmacies should dispose of old medication
A petition to the German Bundestag is currently demanding that pharmacists take old medicines free of charge. Numerous websites and blogs call to support the petition. The response is still poor: Only 507 people have signed so far. But the issue concerns us all.
Pharmacists should take back medicines Expired medicines are dangerous. If the medication gets into the hands of children, for example, it can pose serious health risks. A petition to the German Bundestag demands the free withdrawal of old medication. So far, not many people have signed the call, so far only 507 signatures have been collected. The initiators are hoping for many more signatures, and the petition will be officially closed by April 19, 2011. If at least 50,000 signatures are collected by then, the Bundestag committee must deal with the topic.
The subject is important, emphasizes the initiator. If the medication "falls into the wrong hands or is released into the environment in an uncontrolled manner", there are far-reaching consequences. Pharmacies, on the other hand, could assess exactly which disposal makes the most sense for the individual expired medication. Without the withdrawal by pharmacists, there are fears that many people will simply dispose of the medicines in their normal household waste.
Pharmaceutical companies should contribute to the costs
So that pharmacies do not have to pay for the costs alone, pharmaceutical manufacturers should also participate, the petition demands. According to Pedantin, the two industries are not expected to be financially overwhelmed, as pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies are still among the "wealthiest" companies. In addition, only pharmacies are economically affected by a new regulation that still refuse to "irresponsibly" dispose of the expired medication.
Uniform return system for old medication
The petition is based on an old regulation. Until 2009, there was a uniform system for the withdrawal of old medication throughout Germany. Until then, the pharmaceutical manufacturers had to pay for the disposal costs. As of summer 2009, however, the "Packaging Ordinance" was changed. According to this regulation, old medicinal products may be disposed of in the normal household waste. The Federal Association of German Pharmacist Associations had recently negotiated in vain with recycling companies and pharmaceutical companies about a free return system. Since then, only regional solutions have existed in Germany. While old medicinal products end up in the garbage in numerous regions, old medicines are picked up from pharmacies in Leipzig on behalf of the city administration and brought to waste disposal companies. The petition calls for a uniform solution for all of Germany.
As a rule, tablets must contain at least 95 percent of the specified amount of active ingredient when the expiry date has passed. Up to this point, no toxic degradation products may have been created. The manufacturer of the pharmaceuticals must check how long an industrially manufactured drug can be kept in clinical tests. The active ingredients change after the expiry date. Expired medication should therefore not be taken after the usage period has been reached and disposed of properly. (sb)
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