Apr 24 - Nationwide Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday

Wondering what to do with your piles of unwanted medications? Flushing them down the drain can impact water quality, and tossing them out can lead to potential drug abuse.

Anyone with unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs can drop them off for free and safe disposal on Saturday, April 27, which is a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsored National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Previous take-back days have resulted in the collection of over 2 million pounds of pharmaceutical drugs.

Saturday's collection event is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in locations across the country. Visit the website for a location near you.

Pharmaceutical drug use has exploded across the country, more than doubling in sales from 2000 to 2008. Despite this growth in production, there is still no proper method for disposal of unused and expired drugs.

As previously noted, the traditional methods of flushing drugs down the drain or throwing them in the trash create an array of threats to public health and safety, and the environment. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to treat drugs that are flushed down toilets and sinks, and drugs disposed in landfills can leach into the groundwater system. Pharmaceutical compounds have already been detected in our waterways and soils.

SB 727 (Jackson), a bill introduced this legislative session, would require producers to provide for the safe and free disposal of pharmaceutical drugs year round. This bill is similar to the successful British Columbia initiative that has operated a manufacturer-funded drug disposal program since 1996. Find out more about British Columbia's Medications Return Program here.