WATCH: UST launches challenge to promote proper disposal of unwanted, expired medicine

Anna Gabrielle Cerezo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2020 02:40 PM


MANILA -- The new strain of coronavirus made millions of Filipinos fearful of their health leading millions of Filipinos to hoard vitamins and certain medicines — to the point of even wiping out pharmacy stocks.

Although having supply of medications at home may provide a sense of security, unused and expired drugs may actually put your loved ones at risk.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and prevention reported that “approximately 200,000 children (17 years old or younger) visit emergency departments each year because of adverse drug events (ADE).”

The health institute added that “finding and eating or drinking medicines, without adult supervision” is the leading cause of emergency visits for ADE among children less 5 years old. Annually about 50,000 children in age group are brought to hospitals and clinics to receive treatment for accidental or unsupervised ingestion. Of the number, nearly 70 percent of the victims are1 or 2 year olds.

To prevent these potentially fatal incidents, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Pharmacy launched Recipio in 2019, a university-wide drug take-back drive, hoping to promote the proper disposal of unused, unwanted, and expired medications.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), surrendering most types of unused, unwanted, or expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs at such programs is the best disposal method.

However, since the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the nation, with thousands of new cases still logged daily and frontliners continuing to urge the public to stay home, it is not an “ideal option” in the new normal.

Hence, in lieu of physical drop-off stations, Recipio turned to the digital landscape and instead debuted the “#Recipio1500Strong challenge.”

“It may not be feasible to set up booths in the community around the campus, but this does not hinder us from promulgating and educating the Thomasian community and other Filipinos on how to properly dispose unused, unwanted, and expired medications,“ Aleth Therese Dacanay, dean of UST Faculty of Pharmacy and lead advocate for Recipio, explained.

“The 1500 Strong challenge will be spearheaded by advocates of Recipio, where they will challenge members of the Thomasian community, other students, friends, and family to be advocates of Recipio,” she elaborated.

The movement calls on netizens to post on their social media photos and videos of themselves following the “Recipio 4-step medication disposal” which is to SORT the medicines into 3 categories (unwanted, unused and expired); REMOVE them from their original packaging and place in a plastic bag; MIX with any unappealing material and seal; and lastly, THROW them in a solid waste bin.

“The concept of Recipio commenced after benchmarking abroad, where it was realized that there is no such program in the country,” the dean shared.

She continued: “Upon returning home, a survey was conducted in the university and it turned out many did not know how to properly handle unused, unwanted, and expired medicines in their homes. They would only dispose of them in their trash bins."

According to Dacanay, the support Recipio’s drug take-back drive received the previous year was “overwhelming.”

“Hundreds of faculty members and support staff, and thousands of students pledged support for Recipio, to promulgate the proper handling of household unused, unwanted, and expired medicines. Thousands of Thomasians also surrendered their medicines at the drop of stations,” she said.

The sean said the end-goal, however, is to bring attention to Recipio at a national level.

Thus, despite the challenges COVID-19 brought, students and members of the faculty came up with the #Recipio1500Strong challenge to “sustain the momentum.”

“We just need to fortify and pursue what we had already started. Let us reinforce our hopes and support for the program,” she enthused.

Dacanay said anyone is welcome to become a #RecipioAdvocate and encourages everyone to think of themselves as “agents of medication stewardship.”

“Together let us champion proper and secure medication disposal for a safe household,” she urged.