Drugs displayed at a pharmacy in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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In the absence of a safe solution to dispose of expired pharmaceutical waste, warehouses in Lebanon are filling up with old, unusable drugs.For many companies, paying $5,000-$8,000 per ton shipped to Europe – according to estimates by sources in the field – means having to increase the market price of their products and losing competitiveness. For this reason, some companies are storing their expired pharmaceuticals while waiting for a national solution to be put in place. But sources within the Health Ministry, which is responsible for supervising the storage of expired pharmaceuticals and managing the pharmaceutical waste of public institutions, told The Daily Star that since it started collecting this type of waste in 1999, no shipment has been made. According to Phares, pharmaceutical leftovers are usually minimal because importers calibrate their orders to match the demand of the Lebanese market. Some companies also have contracts that oblige their suppliers abroad to take back the pharmaceuticals three months before the expiry date and ensure their correct disposal. Abichaker was prompted to come up with the idea by companies in search of an alternative to stockpiling their expired pharmaceuticals in warehouses.
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