Turning in unused or expired medicines makes everyone safer

Unwanted and unused prescription drugs can be harmful to people and the environment. You can safely dispose of these medicines – including controlled substances – during the nationwide drug “take back” day on Saturday April 28, 2012.

This one-day event will provide free, anonymous collection of unwanted or expired drugs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the following locations:

•     Pierce County Sheriff’s Department South Hill Precinct, 271 John Bananola Way E., Puyallup

•     University Place Police Department, 3609 Market Place West Suite 201, University Place

•     Edgewood/Milton Police Department collection site, 2800 Milton Way, Milton in the Albertson’s parking lot.

•     Sprinker Rec Center Parking Lot, 14824 South C Street, Tacoma

There are 23 “take back” sites in Pierce County that operate year-round. Most are law enforcement agencies, but some pharmacies also participate. Only law enforcement agencies can accept controlled substances. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s directory featuring all 23 sites can be found here.

Take back programs are a good way to reduce the amount of medicines entering the environment. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the first National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Sept. 25, 2010 in coordination with 3,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Citizens turned in more than 121 tons of pills, removing potentially dangerous prescription drugs and controlled substances from their medicine cabinets. Nearly 9,000 pounds were collected in the state of Washington.

Many Americans unknowingly create safety and health hazards by flushing unused medicines down the toilet or throwing them away. Drugs flushed down the toilet will eventually flow into water bodies like Puget Sound because most medicines are not removed by wastewater treatment processes or septic systems. Even medicines placed in the garbage could remain chemically active and escape into the environment when landfill liquids are sent to a wastewater treatment plant. Medicines in the garbage can present a risk to sanitation workers.

For more information:

DEA National Take Back Initiative: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

Programs in Washington state: http://takebackyourmeds.org/