The Medicine Chest

Pharmaceuticals help people and animals live healthier lives, yet their use sometimes comes with unforeseen consequences. Contaminated drinking water and unintended impacts on wildlife and plants have both been associated with medicines that are not disposed of properly. The problem is only growing because of the increasing use of medications.

Unused prescription medications in homes can be accidentally ingested, stolen, misused, or abused. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44 people in the U.S. die of prescription painkiller overdose every day.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause unintended harm to pets too. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported that in 2014, they received 26,407 calls from people whose pets had gotten into medicines intended for human use, putting human medications at the top of their toxins list for the seventh straight year.

The Medicine Chest addresses these emerging issues with curriculums comprised of multidisciplinary, standards-based classroom materials. It also includes sample stewardship activities and background information for educators and high school students on how the improper disposal of unwanted medicines can be harmful to people, pets, and the environment.

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