Pharmacist calls for old meds

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:19

Sussex Borough — Stu Baker, pharmacist and owner of Baker’s Pharmacy on Main Street, has combined his concern over pollution and worries about bad medicine with a community spirit and good business sense. It may sound like a lot to package together, but the topic is multi-layered. Baker had become increasingly concerned over reports that medical institutions routinely dump expired and unused prescription medicines into public water sources. Many people also are in the habit of flushing unused medicines down the toilet, Baker points out. The result, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Association, is becoming “an emerging problem:” groundwater laced with a variety of prescription medicines. Baker has invested in a specially designed, tamper-proof deposit box — something like a mail box — so patrons could safely dispose of old medicines. Patrons can drop their unused and outdated pills and liquid medicines into the locked box. “We cannot take ‘sharps’ at this time, Baker says, referring to the small needles used to inject medicines such as diabetes patients use. He has contracted with a company that collects “and incinerates them so it doesn’t go into the water table,” Baker explains. Baker is not charging customers for the service, and he’s encouraging even people who don’t have their prescritions at his pharmacy to come over and use the box. If he picks up new customers, so be it. The special disposal box cost him $600, Baker says, due to its security features, and he will pay 50 cents per pound of waste for incineration services. But the cost and the fees are worth it, Baker figures. “It’s good for the environment and it’s good to bring to bring in new customers.”