Pills and the Planet: Ecological Steps for Your Drug Cabinet: Harvard Health Blog

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Most people may not guess that pills (or creams, patches, and inhalers, therefore) have a big impact on the environment, but they do.

Climate change has remarkable effects on the environment as well consequences for our health, such as rising asthma rates and new patterns of infectious diseases. The key driver of climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. Our health care system plays an important role as it provides about 10% of our nation’s greenhouse gases. The US is also responsible more than 25% of global healthcare emissions.

Within our healthcare system, medicines and chemicals are the main ones the main contributor to the line of command to greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, they can generate pharmaceutical waste throughout the global supply chain environmental and animal toxicities, and in the case of antibiotic waste, a antimicrobial resistance (aka “superbugs”). In 2018, 5.8 billion in recipes were filled in the US. Meanwhile, consumers were spending $ 34 billion in over-the-counter drugs.

Many of these medications save lives and offer us huge benefits and healthier lives if taken correctly. But with some thought, you may be able to do a few things to make your medicine cabinet more environmentally friendly, while keeping your health at the center.

Minimize waste when buying medicines

Less is more. Filling up 90-day medication supplies can reduce the overall cost per pill, provide more convenience, and require fewer containers. But in some situations, it makes sense to ask for smaller amounts, such as when you’re trying a new drug, or if you’re buying over-the-counter medications that you use infrequently and don’t expect to expire before the expiration date.

Do the math. If your doctor recommends a dose change and the math works, first consider halving or doubling the current pills. If this works, you can request a prescription to get the new dose for the next refill.

Fill it when you use it. Do not pick up a prescription unless you are using it, except for an emergency medication that you should have on hand. If you have the option of taking a medication to take if symptoms worsen or do not improve, ask your doctor to send the prescription to the pharmacy and notify them that you want it to be filled.

Reduce the size of your medicine cabinet

Review the pros and cons. Bring all prescription and over-the-counter medications to your appointments and check them regularly with your primary care physician. Make sure your medication regimen offers more benefits than harms to your situation. This is especially helpful if you see many doctors prescribing medications for you. Sometimes people stumble upon a waterfall, where one drug is added to treat symptoms that are side effects of another. But be sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes; it may be harmful to stop some medications and they may need to be reduced slowly.

Incorporate lifestyle medications. Talk to your doctor lifestyle medicine, which focuses on healthy habits such as regular exercise and healthy eating to prevent disease and promote longevity. Often, these lifestyle changes can help reduce or eliminate the need for medication.

Inhalers: Know your options

Explore the options. If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), ask your doctor what your options are for inhalers. Measured dose inhalers (MDIs) use hydrofluoroalkane propellants, which are greenhouse gases, to administer medication. Check for an equivalent dry powder inhaler (DPI) option. However, not everyone can use DPIs, which depend on patients to breathe deeply quickly to attract medication to the lungs. (For this reason, rescue inhalers used during an asthma attack are usually MDI.) Your inhaler options will also depend on the cost and coverage of your insurer. In the end, the important thing is to use the inhaler device that works best for you to monitor your condition.

Proper disposal of medications

Know when to wash. Do not place medicines in the toilet or toilet (unless they are in the water) FDA Download List), as it can pollute lakes, rivers, agriculture and drinking water. Read the packages for instructions on removing medications. Many local pharmacies or public safety agencies, such as the police, will accept unused medications and dispose of them safely. National Prescription Drug Recovery Day is April 24, 2021, so check it out safe collection sites Near You.

Some medications can be thrown in the trash. First remove your personal identification tags, then mix the medication in a container with coffee, cat litter, or dirt. (This is not recommended for controlled substances such as opioids and other addictive medications.) Visit this FDA website for more information on medication elimination.

Healthcare is an association and, with thought and care, we can work together to get the best of both worlds: a healthier one and a healthier planet.



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