Today U.S. Senator Herb Kohl urged Wisconsinites to participate in National Take-Back Day this Saturday, September 25, during which individuals can safely dispose of their leftover and unwanted prescription drugs at one of thousands of collection points nationwide. Wisconsin alone will be collecting drugs at over 85 sites across the state.
"National Take-Back Day will provide Americans with a safe and effective way to dispose of their prescription drugs, get drugs away from their homes and keep them out of our drinking water," said Kohl.
Senator Kohl, chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, recently held a hearing on drug waste, highlighting the health and safety risks associated with both improper disposal and lack of disposal options for consumers. Having leftover drugs around the house is a significant safety risk for families and, in some cases, fosters prescription drug abuse and fuels black market trade. However, throwing drugs away in the home or flushing them down the toilet results in water contamination. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey study of 139 bodies of water in 30 states found that over 80 percent of the water samples were contaminated by personal care products, including prescription drugs.
At the hearing, witnesses from Wisconsin and Maine talked about two successful programs that collect and dispose of excess medications. Unfortunately, many similar programs nationwide are unable to accept the most dangerous types of controlled medication for disposal due to provisions in the Controlled Substance Act. Kohl is actively working with the DEA to create a regulatory framework that allows for the safe and legal collection and disposal of all prescription drugs. National Take-Back Day represents the DEA's latest efforts to address the problem. Kohl plans to continue his work with the DEA following Saturday's initiative in order to put long-term drug disposal policies in place.
"While we understand there is a risk that drugs can fall into the wrong hands on their way to a drug disposal collection point, the fact is that the risk of that happening in the home is even greater," Kohl said.
National Take-Back Day is a joint effort of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Associational of Attorneys General, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and local law enforcement. To find a collection site near you, go to: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/takeback/.