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Contact: Marcia Mueting, Nebraska Pharmacists Association, 402-420-1500; Joan McVoy, Nebraska Regional Poison Center, 800-222-1222; Cindy Kreifels, The Groundwater Foundation, 402-434-2740; Willa Tharnish, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, 402-480-1956

LINCOLN, NE (January 29, 2015) – What do you do with leftover medications? We continue to hear of unwanted, unused, or expired medications being flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain. But these methods of drug disposal are no longer acceptable or safe. And, it is not safe to keep them in your home. So what are you to do with them? “Based on the public health concerns and negative impacts to water quality, a coalition of local, state, and non-profit organizations have joined together to educate the public about drug disposal and create a statewide program in which local pharmacies are able to collect these drugs and dispose of them in a safe way,” explains Marcia Mueting, PharmD, RP, with the Nebraska Pharmacists Association.

A nationwide study released in 2002 by the United States Geological Survey detailed trace levels of prescription drug chemicals found in 80 percent of the waterways across the country. The breakthrough study checked for the presence of materials such as pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, sterols, hormones, and other chemical compounds. Groundwater and seven streams in Nebraska were included in the study. Pharmaceutical chemicals can enter the environment contaminating surface and groundwater by several means.

In addition to the environmental concerns of medication disposal, there are also the health concerns of accidental poisoning and potential overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. In fact, prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the United States, following marijuana. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that about 15.3 million people aged 12 and older used prescription drugs non-medically in the past year, and 6.5 million did so in the past month. By getting unused, unwanted, and expired medications out of the home, you can address all of these concerns.

Check with your local pharmacy to see if they are collecting unwanted medication or search for a participating pharmacy near you at

The Nebraska Medication Education on Disposal Strategies (MEDS) coalition consists of the Nebraska Pharmacists Association, the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, The Nebraska Regional Poison Center, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and The Groundwater Foundation. The mission of the Nebraska MEDS Coalition is to educate Nebraskans about drug disposal and provide safe ways to dispose of them in order to better safeguard the environment and protect public health. This project is funded by a grant from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.



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