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How to Properly Dispose Expired ‘Drugs’ Using Ground Coffee and Cat Litter

Drugs disposal

Ground coffee and cat litter to properly dispose your expired drugs? Sidra Medicine says it’s a better approach at disposing narcotics

Every year, tonnes of medications are either poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet. Despite treatment efforts, remnants from the drugs find their way into water systems causing ecological damage to aquatic flora, fauna and wildlife.

Sidra Medicine, Qatar’s specialist women’s and children’s hospital, has launched an environmentally-conscious effort to dispose of narcotic pharmaceutical waste and leftover medications at its main hospital. The approach involves mixing the narcotic waste such as IV fluids, with cat litter or ground coffee. The combination of cat litter or coffee, deactivates the narcotic components, making it safer to dispose as regular waste.

Fathea Adheir, Director of the Pharmacy Department at Sidra Medicine said that as a healthcare provider, it is important that they support the protection of the ecosystem and this means disposing of drugs and narcotic waste responsibly and without damage to the environment.

Mixing narcotic waste with cat litter and coffee grounds, has become the norm in a lot of other countries. We are pleased that our recommendation to do the same at our hospital, was endorsed by Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health. We hope that other healthcare providers will be inspired to follow the same approach.

We also encourage the public not to store unneeded or expired prescription drugs. They should dispose of these drugs safely – to avoid abuse, accidental ingestion by children or pets or damage to the environment. It is recommended to consider the same disposal method of mixing the drugs with cat litter or ground coffee.’

Follow these steps below to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs at home:

  • Take the prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  • Remove or conceal personal information and the prescription number from the empty medicine container by covering it with a permanent marker, duct tape or by scratching it off.
  • Crush solid medicine or dissolve liquid medication in water before mixing it with cat litter or ground coffee.
  • Put the mixture in a disposable container with a lid or in a sealable bag.
  • Place the sealed container with the denatured drug mixture and the empty drug containers in the trash.
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