[Pharmwaste] take back programs in pharmacies

Amy Merricle MERRICLA@michigan.gov
Fri, 18 Feb 2005 16:41:25 -0500

Follow-up to Lynn's note - The press release is below...there might be
more info on EPA's home page.

Amy Merricle, Toxicologist Specialist
Toxicology Unit, Remediation and Redevelopment Division
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 30426
Lansing, MI 48909-7926
Ph: 517-241-3584
Email: merricla@michigan.gov

          Drug Take-Back Program in South Portland, Maine
            Encourages Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs

BOSTON  - In an effort to encourage proper disposal of household
prescription drugs, the United States Environmental Protection Agency,
in collaboration with the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc., Maine
CVS/pharmacy, and the South Portland Police Department, conducted
Maine's first-ever prescription drug take-back program last Saturday
South Portland's Mill Creek CVS/pharmacy.

The pilot program was a huge success allowing citizens the opportunity
to bring in unwanted or outdated medications for proper disposal. The
drugs collected through the program will be incinerated in order to
prevent them from making their way into our waterways.

Increasingly, prescription and non-prescription medications, many of
which are not effectively destroyed by sewage treatment plants, are
finding their way into streams and drinking water supplies. A study
conducted four years ago by the United States Geological Survey found
that 80 percent of 139 streams sampled across 30 states detected very
low concentrations of chemicals commonly found in prescription drugs.

By the end of Saturday's event, 52 people from 17 Maine communities
brought in 50 gallons of medications for proper disposal. This
almost 1,300 medications that were controlled substances, with an
estimated street value of over $5,000. The public brought in more than
700 containers of medicine overall. Included in the list of substances
collected were antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-cancer drugs,
tranquillizers and estrogen.

"Maine is at the forefront of addressing this serious environmental
issue as more and more studies confirm that expired and unused
pharmaceuticals should be properly destroyed to prevent them from
reaching our nation's waters," stated Robert W. Varney, EPA's regional
administrator.  "The importance of this complicated problem is just
coming to light - this pilot demonstrates that successfully tackling
this issue will require the collaboration and cooperation of many

"This one-day event prevented more than 55,000 pills from making their
way into our waters and helped educate consumers about the importance
for proper disposal of medical waste,"  said Lynn Rubinstein,
Director of the Northeast Recycling Council.  "We are hopeful that 
success of this pilot will pave the way for similar projects in the

Response was enthusiastically positive, with many folks commenting
they just never knew what to do with all those old prescriptions.
legislation this session will address this increasingly serious
environmental problem by considering turn-in, mail-back, and proper
disposal mechanisms for unneeded pharmaceuticals.

>>> "Lynn Rubinstein" <lynn@nerc.org> 02/18/05 2:51 PM >>>
You may be interested in a very successful pilot that NERC just
completed at a CVS pharmacy in Maine.  A full report will be available
in PDF on the NERC website on March 1st.  If you want to see it sooner,
I'll be happy to email it to you in Word - but beware - it's 3 mgs. 

Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director
Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.
139 Main St., Suite 401
Brattleboro, VT  05301
lynn@nerc.org    www.nerc.org 
802-254-3636/802-254-5870 fax