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Backgrounder(s) & FactSheet(s):Backgrounder




For Immediate Release


March 4, 2008

Ministry of Health




VICTORIA – Health Minister George Abbott today urged British Columbians to protect themselves, their families and the environment by returning old medicines to their local pharmacist for safe disposal.


“Pharmaceuticals are a small but very important component of the waste stream affecting every household in British Columbia,” said Abbott. “Unused medications pose a significant health, safety and environmental hazard when stored or disposed of improperly.”


Thousands of pounds of medications are thrown out every year in British Columbia. Often, these pills are tossed in the garbage or flushed down the toilet, which is unsafe for people and animals, and harmful to the environment.


“B.C. leads the country in the area of industry product stewardship with a regulatory regime that makes the producers of regulated products 100 per cent responsible for the full life cycle of their products,” said Environment Minister Barry Penner. “The Medications Return Program is just one of nine industry product stewardship programs that help to reduce the harmful impacts of consumer waste on human health and the environment.” 


Through the Medications Return Program, regulated under the Province’s Recycling Regulation, unused or expired medicines can be returned to a community pharmacy for disposal. During Pharmacist Awareness Week in British Columbia, March 3 to 9, pharmacists will focus on the community service they perform collecting medications and arranging for disposal in a safe, environmentally responsible manner.


“Pharmacies are part of an environmental initiative that takes health care one step further. Keeping our environment healthy is in everyone’s best interest,” said Marnie Mitchell, CEO of the B.C. Pharmacy Association. “I’m pleased that pharmacies throughout the province are available to offer this necessary service.”


In performing this service, pharmacists also offer patients an opportunity to ask any medication questions they may have, discuss health concerns and work on refining medication regimes.


The following can be returned to a community pharmacy for disposal:

·        All prescription drugs

·        All non-prescription medicines

·        Herbal products

·        Mineral and vitamin supplements

·        Throat lozenges


Here in Victoria, the CRD is proud to promote the use of the Medications Return Program in order to increase local awareness of the program and to proactively protect the environment from the potential effects of medications,” said Denise Blackwell, CRD board chair.


Unnecessary medicines can be returned to a local pharmacist any time. The pharmacy does not have to be the same pharmacy where the medicine was originally bought.


Call any local drugstore or pharmacy to confirm their participation in the program, or visit online.




 1 backgrounder(s) attached.





Marisa Adair

Communications Director

250 920-8500 (cell)

250 952-1889 (media line)


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