Thursday, March 5, 2009

Doctor recycles prescription drugs to the homeless

Dr. Jeff Turnbull, chief of staff at the Ottawa Hospital, and Dr. Ron MacCormick, an oncologist in Sydney, N.S., (Home of the notoriously polluted tar-ponds cleanup...) want provincial governments to establish regulations that would guide doctors who want to recycle unused prescription drugs that would otherwise be thrown out.
"I think it's a common sense issue where we could come up with common sense guidelines to direct this," Turnbull said. His patients include people who have lived on the streets for years, and those who don't have a drug plan or a health card. The medication that is handed out is not yet expired. MacCormick, who works in an area of Cape Breton where there are high cancer rates and low incomes, said he completely supports the call for provincial regulations on the issue and the need to recycle prescription drugs. "I would do whatever I could to get that drug into their hands and not let technicalities get in the way of me getting that drug," he said.

According to the Ontario College of Pharmacists, the Drug and Pharmacies Regulation Act prohibits the re dispensing of drugs that have been returned to a pharmacy once the dispensed drug has left the pharmacy...

In a statement, the college said: "This protects the public from potential harm in receiving a drug that may have been tampered with or altered in some way, and is based on the premise that all patients — no matter what their financial status or abilities — deserve drugs that are of high quality; this cannot be assured where returned drugs are “recycled” or re-dispensed to patients."

Health Canada said the issue falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. The Food and Drugs Act applies to the sale of drug products, not the dispensing of them.

It said the dispensing of approved drugs donated by patients to a doctor or pharmacist would fall under the practice of medicine and pharmacy, which is the responsibility of the provinces and territories.

(From CBC

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