White House Commemorates National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Posted by: Suzy Whalen
DEA to continue drug take-back days as part of a comprehensive solution
for curbing abuse and accidental poisonings
Washington DC - The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) supports the President's Memorandum to Federal Departments and Agencies, released today, encouraging the pursuit of two important steps to combating prescription drug abuse: prescriber training and improved access to treatment. PSI applauds the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as part of the President's initiative, for its commitment to continue to run National Prescription Drug Take-Back days in the spring and fall of 2016.
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S.; over half of those who misuse prescription drugs report the pills they took were prescribed to a friend or family member. On top of this, emergency rooms too often see cases of young children poisoned when they get their hands on improperly stored or discarded medicines.
Collecting unused medicines from the home not only keeps them out of the hands of potential abusers and unsuspecting children, but also protects the environment. Discarding unused medicines in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can contaminate aquatic environments
, threatening human and ecological health. Most wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove pharmaceutical compounds, so trace levels are often detected in water supplies.
Take-back programs ensure they are safely disposed.
"PSI applauds the DEA for educating the public about pharmaceutical collection initiatives
, one vital solution to addressing the enormous health and environmental issues stemming from leftover medications," said Scott Cassel, chief executive officer and founder of PSI. "PSI is addressing these challenges by helping local governments and pharmacies to implement sustainable and convenient collection programs in their communities."
The DEA's 2014 final rule
implementing the Controlled Substances Act made it possible to extend collection beyond locations with law enforcement officers present to more convenient locations such as neighborhood pharmacies.
"As a pharmacist, I recognized a need in my community for an easy, safe way for residents to dispose of leftover and unwanted medications. My pharmacy, therefore, decided to house a pharmaceutical collection receptacle and to educate the public about its use," explained Monty Scheele, director of pharmacy operations at Four Star Drug
in Lincoln, Nebraska. "The program was simple to implement, our customers appreciate it, and our business benefits from increased foot traffic. It's truly a win-win."
State and local governments also take it upon themselves to run collection sites in law enforcement agencies. "Our county understands the importance of pharmaceutical take-back programs, which is why we helped to establish Nebraska MEDS
, a coalition of state and community partners dedicated to educating residents about proper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications," said Dan N. King, household hazardous waste coordinator at the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, Nebraska. "These initiatives are easy to implement, and we are having great success with our program. It's critical for other states to join in these efforts so that the benefits extend nationally."
"Unfortunately, take-back programs can be costly for local governments and small pharmacies to manage. Sustainable funding is necessary to ensure safe and convenient disposal for residents nationwide," Cassel also noted.
To address the issue of long-term financing for pharmaceutical take-back programs, five counties in California and one in Washington State have passed extended producer responsibility
(EPR) laws that require manufacturers to devise and fund programs to collect and properly dispose of unused medications.
About the Product Stewardship Institute:
The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is a national, membership-based nonprofit committed to reducing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of consumer products across their life cycle with a strong focus on sustainable end-of-life management. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., PSI takes a unique product stewardship approach to solving waste management problems by encouraging product design changes and mediating stakeholder dialogues. With 47 state environmental agency members, along with hundreds of local government members from coast-to-coast, and 110 corporate, business, academic, non-U.S. government, and organizational partners, we work to design, implement, evaluate, strengthen, and promote both legislative and voluntary product stewardship initiatives across North America. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.