Madison County Department of Solid Waste
Submitted by Sharon Driscoll
(Madison County – April 2013) It’s time to round up all your unused and outdated medication: the Safe Pill Take Back program will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Buyea Road landfill site in Lincoln.
This site is three miles from the traffic light on Route 5 in Wampsville.
Residents are asked to bring medication in original containers. Acceptable medications are controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs, over-the-counter prescription medications in liquid or pill form, vitamins and veterinary medications.
Sharps (lancets and syringes) should be contained in the free biohazard containers available at all Madison County pharmacies.
Questions about the Pill Take Back program can be answered by calling the Madison County Landfill at 1-800-721-2208 or Bridges at 315-697-3947.
“When we held the first Safe Pill Take back program in September of 2009, many residents were unaware of the consequences of keeping unneeded, unused or expired medication in their medicine cabinets or cupboards,” said James A. Zecca, director of the Madison County Department of Solid Waste. “They also were not aware of the effect flushing these medications would have on the environment.”
The Take Back Program is important because any unused/expired prescriptions medications are a public safety issue, leading to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, emergency room visits resulting from prescription drugs have exceeded those related to illicit drugs for a number of years.
The numbers continue to grow. There were 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs in 2009, compared with 627,000 in 2004. In 2010 it was reported that the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to painkillers jumped 400 percent from 1998 to 2008.
In a growing number of states, deaths from prescription opiates such as vicodin, percocet and oxycontin now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents, according to SAMHSA.
The public needs to know that prescription drugs are as dangerous as street drugs. You can overdose and die on a prescription narcotic as easily as heroin, as statistics are showing.
The Take Back event also is a way to address environmental problems that arise when unwanted prescription drugs are flushed down the toilet or dumped at a landfill. Residue from the drugs can end up at wastewater treatment plants that cannot handle the chemicals, or the chemicals can leach out into groundwater.
The DEA incinerates the collected medications.
The Environmental Protection Agency has conducted or funded a growing body of research aimed at better understanding the sources and types of drugs that wind up in wastewater and in fish. The agency also has studied drug disposal practices in hospitals, hospices and other facilities and has said it will take regulatory actions whenever appropriate to limit the amount of pharmaceuticals that end up in the water.
Flushing expired or unused prescription drugs is detrimental to the aqueduct life in our rivers, streams and lakes.
The Safe Pill Take Back program is co-sponsored biannually by the Madison County Department of Solid Waste and Sanitation, Madison County’s Promise, Madison County Sheriff’s Department, Madison County STOP DWI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.