Whether the unwanted medications – prescription or over-the-counter – were originally intended for humans or animals, proper disposal of unwanted medication is crucial to protect people, animals, and the environment. To help out, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is holding its fourth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Find a collection site near you by visiting the DEA’s National Take Back Initiative.
The DEA reports that during the last three take-back events, 498.5 tons of medication were collected nationwide. This is HUGE, because it means that nearly 500 tons of unwanted medications didn’t get poured, flushed, or dumped into our environment.
Pouring drugs down the drain or flushing them doesn’t solve the problem – it just transfers the problem to the environment. Neither septic tank systems nor municipal sewage and water treatment facilities can eliminate pharmaceutical contamination. Studies have found a wide range of pharmaceuticals in rivers, streams, groundwater and drinking water nationwide.
Throwing medications into the garbage without secondary precautions can be problematic too. In addition to the concerns about needing to safeguard personal information that may appear on the prescription label, animal safety is an issue because household pets and other animals have been poisoned when they’ve eaten discarded medications. Did you know that over-the-counter and prescription medications – for both humans and animals – are now a leading cause of poisonings in pets? Similar to the FBI’s most wanted, there’s also a top 10 “poison pills” for pets.