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Many government-controlled drugs, like painkilling narcotics that are often abused, fall through the cracks of environmental regulation when they are disposed of. They are put into sinks and toilets by hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
This is a major problem as more than 365 medicines are controlled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - almost 12% of all prescriptions, the agency says. They include widely used steroids, narcotics, depressants, and stimulants-drugs such as oxycodone, codeine, Valium, Ritalin, and morphine
Much of the waste seen in hospitals and other care facilities consists of liquid in syringes that aren't completely emptied when used to treat patients. Though hospitals incinerate drug waste most pour gallons of controlled drugs down the pipes each year. Pouring 50 gallons of controlled drugs down the drain is cheaper than paying $25,000 to dispose of it safely. When controlled drugs are destroyed, meticulous records must be kept. This takes staff and the ability to maintain legal records.
In a statement, the Drug Enforcement Administration said it is "currently developing regulations to allow for the safe and effective destruction of controlled substances."
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