An underappreciated way to fight the opioid crisis AND keep our waterways clean

 

Saturday, April 24, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

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Patricia Kelmar
Director, Health Care Campaigns

Author: Patricia Kelmar

Director, Health Care Campaigns

 

Started on staff: 1986-1991; 2020
B.A., magna cum laude, Boston College; J.D., high honors, George Washington University Law School

Patricia directs the health care campaign work for U.S. PIRG and provides support to our state offices for state-based health initiatives. Her prior roles include senior director of health policy with the National Consumers League, senior policy advisor at NJ Health Care Quality Institute, and consumer advocate at NJPIRG. She serves on the board of the Patient and Caregiver Engagement Advisory Group for the National Quality Forum. Patricia enjoys walks along the Potomac and sharing her love of books with her friends and family around the world.

We all have unused medications sitting around the house, whether it’s in our medicine cabinets, kitchens or now-rarely used travel toiletry kits. This Saturday, April 24, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day presents a perfect opportunity to gather all those partially filled pill bottles, get them out of your house and dispose of them safely. You can simultaneously protect the lives of friends and family, and our water supply. 

While many people don’t think twice about the dangers of unused medication laying around, in recent years it’s become clear that too often, people who weren’t prescribed these drugs -- but can access them -- misuse them, or people dispose of them improperly by flushing them down the toilet and contaminating our water.

Unused prescriptions in people’s homes can lead to overdoses and accidental poisoning. Some people can die from just one dose of the wrong medication. Given that more than half of people who misused prescription pain relievers said they got them from a friend or family member, it’s worth safely disposing your unused medications this weekend.

While you’re encouraged to get potentially dangerous drugs out of your house as soon as you can, you should do it in a smart,  environmentally friendly way -- NOT flushing pills down the toilet. Because many wastewater treatment facilities don’t have the technology to filter out a high volume of drugs, researchers have detected pharmaceuticals in streams even miles downstream from water-treatment plants

So scour your cabinets and purses and collect your unused medications. You know you have them. At many National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events, you can even dispose of your E-cigarette and vaping devices, if you remove the batteries first. 

Check out this searchable site to find your local “Take Back” location this Saturday. Sites will be open between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. And if you can’t make it this Saturday, find a year-round collection point near you. You can also ask your local pharmacists if they offer disposal options. You’ll be doing your friends and family -- and the environment -- a favor.

Patricia Kelmar
Director, Health Care Campaigns

Author: Patricia Kelmar

Director, Health Care Campaigns

 

Started on staff: 1986-1991; 2020
B.A., magna cum laude, Boston College; J.D., high honors, George Washington University Law School

Patricia directs the health care campaign work for U.S. PIRG and provides support to our state offices for state-based health initiatives. Her prior roles include senior director of health policy with the National Consumers League, senior policy advisor at NJ Health Care Quality Institute, and consumer advocate at NJPIRG. She serves on the board of the Patient and Caregiver Engagement Advisory Group for the National Quality Forum. Patricia enjoys walks along the Potomac and sharing her love of books with her friends and family around the world.