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Pharmacies in Nova Scotia will dispose of prescription medications, but the system is voluntary.

A woman from Sydney says it’s time Nova Scotia set up a system to track unused prescription medications, especially opiates.

Janet Bickerton became aware of the gap in the system after being left with large quantities of opiates when her mother died.

Bickerton is also a nurse, and helps administer the Sharp Advice Needle Exchange.

She assumed officials would be looking for her mother’s leftover pills, but no one did.

“There is no process,” Bickerton said. “There is no protocol. There is no one keeping track once those drugs go out into the community. No one is looking for them.”

Pharmacies will dispose of leftover medication, but Bickerton says the problem is, it’s voluntary. She said if someone decides to sell unused prescriptions on the street, no one would know.

Judy MacPhee with the department of health agrees no one is tracking the unused pills, but doing so would be difficult.

“The prescription... belongs to the person,” she said. “You’d have to have some system to retrieve them, to monitor, to police. It would be fairly challenging and complex.”

Bickerton said as long as the current system remains voluntary, people will be able to abuse it.