How to dispose of leftover medications

Pharmaceutical drug abuse poses countless problems for our country. Every 8 minutes, an American dies from an unintentional drug overdose. Seven out of 10 people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family. Often, they find forgotten pills in a home medicine cabinet.

The problem, sadly, finds its way to our youngest and most vulnerable. In Missouri, medications make up the top three poisonous substances affecting children 5 and younger, and have some of the most serious outcomes. Authorities can trace poisonings to not only prescription medicine but over-the-counter (OTC) medication, as well.

Properly disposing of medications protects your household and avoids disastrous cumulative effects on your local environment. Flushing medicines sends them into our rivers, streams and waterways. And wastewater treatment plants cannot remove them. Trace elements can wind up in our drinking water and prove harmful to aquatic wildlife.

To combat these scenarios, the Mid-America Regional Council Solid Waste Management District helped fund a statewide effort to assist people in disposing of their leftover pharmaceuticals. As part of the Product Stewardship Council, MARC also brought in our GIS data specialists to help map out a drug take-back location finder for the state of Missouri and surrounding region.

The map aims to help users find partner pharmacies and organizations engaging in the safest practices to prevent water contamination and negligent disposal.

When emptying your medicine cabinet, you can also participate in take-back programs through the mail. Some pharmacies and other organizations will offer postage-paid envelopes for a small fee, and accept both prescription and OTC medications. Learn more at missouripsc.org.