Recycled prescriptions go to needy instead of trash

Thursday, August 11th 2005, 2:24 pm
By: News On 6

We've all heard of how bad the prices have gotten on prescription drugs. But would you believe that many drugs at nursing homes simply get thrown out.

Doctors figured there had to be a better way, and since January, they've been recycling those drugs for people in need.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says this is a dose of good news.

Tulsa County pharmacist Art McMullen worked for 30 years in retail. Now he's got a different clientele.

Art McMullen, Pharmacist: "A lot of the people that we see are basically, indigent I suppose is the right word, and if we didn't provide this for at least some of them, they wouldn't get it."

The drugs are rounded up by a volunteer group of retired doctors from nursing homes, where until now, they sometimes went to waste.

Art McMullen: "Whenever a doctor changes therapy, a patient's deceased, just basically leftover things."

Recycled drugs probably doesn't sound very feasible until you find out that nursing home drugs have the pills individually sealed in bubble wrap. McMullen says it makes it easier for nursing home workers to keep track of doses.

Art McMullen: "And they're sealed and they're not compromised in any way... There's no real way to do that without somebody seeing it."

They have a pretty good supply of everything. People just have to prove they live in Tulsa County and meet income requirements.

Art McMullen: "It's absolutely free on a first-come, first-serve basis."

McMullen says he likes putting smiles on faces that are ailing both physically and financially.

Art McMullen: "Oh man... it's very gratifying at times to see the reactions we get... for somebody who's been in retail for as long as I have where everybody's looking at you like you're crazy because it costs that much, it's nice to give something to somebody."

Since January, the county pharmacy has given out nearly a half-million dollars worth of free medicine.

If you want to find out more about it, go by the the office 2401 Charles Page Boulevard in West Tulsa, or call at 596-5560.