Issues around household pharmaceutical waste disposal through community pharmacies in Croatia
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Background Croatian regulations mandate pharmacies to receive unused medicines from households. Pharmacies are considered as producers and holders of pharmaceutical waste and are obliged to finance this service. Model where pharmacies are responsible for financing disposal of unused medicines without reimbursement is not common in Europe. Present service was not tested before implementation. Objective To investigate the elements of the pharmaceutical waste disposal service provided by pharmacies, and to gain insight into the factors that might influence the effectiveness of the service. Setting All pharmacies in the city of Zagreb. Method Each pharmacy was asked to weigh the collected waste from the public during a period of 30 days, between June 1st and July 10th of 2011, absent from any media advertisement and answer a specifically designed questionnaire that was exploring possible connections between the amount of collected waste, type of pharmacy ownership, discretion while disposing, location of the container, appropriate labeling and to compare the amount of collected waste between neighborhoods. Main outcome measure Quantity of collected unused medicines from the public. Results Of 210 pharmacies, 91 participated completing the questionnaire (43 % response rate). The total amount of collected waste was 505 kg. Pharmacies owned by the city of Zagreb had higher response rate (74 %) than privately owned pharmacies (36 %), and collected significantly higher amount of waste. Anonymity when disposing influenced collected quantity, while labelling and location of the container did not. There were differences in the amount of collected waste between neighborhoods due to the demographic characteristics and number of pharmacies per capita. Conclusion The effectiveness of the pharmacy service of collecting unused medicines in Croatia shows a number of weaknesses. The amount of collected medicines is below the European average. Functioning of the service seems to be negatively influenced by the type of pharmacy ownership, distribution of pharmacies and lack of anonymity when disposing unused medicines. Additionally, type of ownership is connected with financial burden for pharmacies. Governmental bodies should examine current legislation regulating pharmaceutical waste disposal, particularly financial responsibility for providing the service, in order to increase pharmacies’ compliance. Advertising of the service may increase awareness of the importance of proper disposal of unused medicines.
KeywordsCroatia Disposal Household waste Pharmaceutical waste Pharmacies Unused medicines
We thank The Croatian Chamber of Pharmacists for assistance in data collection and all pharmacies who participated in this study.
The study was funded by the non-governmental organization “PIN Partnership-Information-Networking for Health”, Zagreb, Croatia.
Conflicts of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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