Doing the Right Thing Gave Me a Headache

by Tucker Cooke

Doing the right thing should not be hard to do. We recycle because we were told it is the right thing to do. We were told it hurts the planet and especially our drinking water to flush our unused prescriptions down the toilet or toss them in the garbage.

So “they” started a campaign to educate us dumb clucks about what is the right thing to do. Now we are to take unused prescriptions back to a pharmacy to a secure and responsible drop box. Sounds simple right? Then, why did it take me four stops to find out that not every pharmacy can dispose of our unused medications?

photo: Sally Hewitt

My first stop was at the pharmacy where the prescription was filled. To my surprise, they do not have that service. My doctor’s office, where the prescription was sent in from, does not have that service. I then stopped at a national chain pharmacy and they sent me to another competitor, who I finally discovered do provide that service, but cannot accept Schedule II narcotics (oxycodone). I looked it up on the U.S. Department of Justice website and we here in Whatcom County have no place available — we are to take them to our nearest locations in Skagit County.  How convenient!

So, here is my gripe. If you write prescriptions in your office, or you fill prescriptions in your pharmacy, you should be expected to accept unused medications for proper disposal … because it’s the right thing to do. Consider using some of that money you get from Big Pharma for pushing their products to do the right thing.

I take some expensive medications and appreciate the fact that my insurance covers most of the absurd cost, thanks to our Big Pharma National Benefit Program. That’s another rant. So, when my physician changed my prescription before I had used all of my old medication, I was flabbergasted that I was expected to take a two-month expensive supply and just have it disposed of.

Now, it did not cost me a bundle, but it did cost the insurance company, and therefore it costs everyone when this product goes unused. Big Pharma was the only beneficiary. It is the law that even unopened prescription products cannot be donated for others to benefit from. Yes, I get it, someone might have torn open the foil pack inside the box and contaminated the perfectly good medication inside.

So, if your company makes the drugs, prescribes the drugs, or fills the prescriptions, it is you who need to do the right thing and make sure it is as easy for everyone to do the right thing — and give our planet a break instead of headache medication.

Tucker Cooke has lived in Whatcom County for 18 years, having arrived from Pennsylvania via quite a few years in California.

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