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Donating prescription meds
September 29, 2011 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Where do I donate prescription medication (Topamax/Topiramate)?

I have a good stock of Topamax that I brought from Sweden when I moved to the US, taking into account the time it will take for my local insurance to setup. But after a month, I was in ER for kidney stone which is a (rare) side effect of Topamax. As a result, the local neurologist asked me to discontinue Topamax right away. This medicine is rather expensive so instead of paying pharmacy to discard it, I prefer to donate.

I would like to know if there are any organizations where I could donate this medication to? Google didn't help much.
posted by zaxour to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
 
Unfortunately, in the US, there are no ways I am aware of for patients to donate prescription meds. Such programs would have no way to prevent or check for harmful tampering, or even just improper storage and potency.
posted by quadrilaterals at 8:39 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ask your doctor, but you'll likely find that Federal law still tightly restricts this. (What a shame, too, because I know first hand that calling Topamax expensive is like calling the ocean wet.)
posted by introp at 8:40 AM on September 29, 2011


I think you will have a very hard time finding an organization that will take your medication. There are lots of liability issues as well as quality control and storage issues. I work for a medical humanitarian organization, and we don't take any donations of drugs, not even from drug companies.
posted by kimdog at 8:42 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to chime in on the "probably not possible" front. Also, check with the local health department. Odds are someone - police, hospital, solid waste authority, etc. - has a free medication turn-in program so it won't cost you anything.
posted by SMPA at 8:47 AM on September 29, 2011


Every comment so far is just wrong. There are organizations in the US that will accept donated medication. Aid for AIDS is one such program, although I don't think they would have a use for topiramate. It couldn't hurt to inquire. They may know of another program that would take it.

As for medication turn-in programs: these are aimed at preventing diversion of controlled substances (e.g. narcotics). They may take other stuff, but they're just going to destroy it. If you can't find an organization to donate it to, I would just keep the stuff in case you are put back on it before it expires. No sense throwing it before then, and that's what a turn-in program amounts to.
posted by jedicus at 8:59 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have a concrete answer for you, but I want to qualify the answers here that say "not possible." As jedicus points out, it is not true that no prescription drug donation programs operate. Several HIV medication recycling programs exist, and I know of no special obstacle preventing the establishment of programs for donation of other classes of medication. If a Topomax recycling program doesn't yet exist, maybe someone reading this will start one!
posted by reren at 9:05 AM on September 29, 2011


"instead of paying pharmacy to discard it"

I've never paid a pharmacy to discard medications. My local Walgreens pharmacist will take it, free of charge, no questions asked. I'm pretty sure they just destroy it, but it couldn't hurt to ask the pharmacist if they know of any programs like you're looking for, and what they do with discarded medication.
posted by MuChao at 9:31 AM on September 29, 2011


Not possible, especially if they are head meds. I tried to figure out where to donate a lot of Lamictal & Neurontin and no one takes them. Such a waste.
posted by lollipopgomez at 11:39 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure they just destroy it

Actually, it's sent back to the pharmaceutical company for destruction. My mother worked in this division of SmithKlineBeecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) for a number of year... sorting through returns from pharmacies, and preparing them for destruction.
posted by kimdog at 8:33 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


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