Purdue pharmacy now accepts unwanted medicine

September 16th, 2015 by

Last week, the Purdue University Retail Pharmacy became the latest participant in IISG’s multi-state effort to help communities properly dispose of their expired, unused, and unwanted pharmaceuticals.


This is the first pharmacy-based collection program that IISG has helped to start. Collaborators also include the Yellow Jug Old Drugs medicine take-back program, and Purdue College of Pharmacy.


Laura Kammin, IISG pollution prevention program specialist, worked closely with Patricia Darbishire, a Purdue clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, to get the ball rolling.


“The reason I wanted to work with Patricia is that I know we will get really good feedback on how the program works from the pharmacy’s perspective,” Kammin said. “And because they will be conducting surveys, we’ll have solid data that can help improve collection programs in other communities in Illinois and Indiana.”


The Yellow Jug Old Drugs program was started in 2008 by the Great Lakes Clean Water Organization working with pharmacies to collect and properly dispose of non-controlled substances to help reduce their impact on the Great Lakes.
In September of 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) changed the rules to allow pharmacies to take controlled substances. Individuals with unwanted medications can visit a participating pharmacy and dispose of both types of drugs in the yellow container that contains a substance that renders the pharmaceuticals non-retrievable.
To date, The Yellow Jug Old Drug Program has properly disposed of more than 52 tons of prescription waste—which means a reduction of pharmaceuticals getting into waterways.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who is the co-chair and founder of the state’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, was also in attendance.
“Nearly 80 percent of heroin users say they started out abusing prescription drugs, and prescription drugs are causing half of the drug overdose deaths in our state,” Zoeller said. “Purdue’s participation in Yellow Jug Old Drugs will not only provide more disposal options to the community, it will instill in young people the risks of prescription drug abuse and hopefully save lives.”
Kammin was excited about the enthusiasm among the partners. “We all agree that we want to get drugs out of the community safely and to reduce the environmental impacts of improper disposal,” Kammin said.
For more information about how to start a medicine take-back program in your community, check out more resources available at
Purdue University Retail Pharmacy accepts both prescription and over-the-counter medications, including pills, ointments, liquids, and creams, Monday though Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 
The pharmacy is located at the Robert Heine Pharmacy Building, 575 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, Ind.

UpClose celebrates two years and a new look

November 13th, 2014 by

It’s been two years since our first edition of UpClose, and we decided to celebrate the occasion by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the study that launched an era of scientific and public interest in pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants. 

And to top it off, we’ve given the award-winning interview series a fresh new look. 

Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist and head of the U.S. Geological Survey Emerging Contaminants Project, played a key role in the first-ever nationwide survey of emerging contaminants. The study found pharmaceuticals, detergents, hormones, and other chemicals in streams across the country. When the results were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in 2002, they sparked a of flurry of media and research attention. To this day, in fact, it is still the most cited study in the journal’s history. 

In the eighth issue of UpClose, Kolpin looks back on the challenges of designing and conducting a national study—particularly one in search of everyday chemicals like caffeine—and the cutting-edge methods scientists created to analyze the results. He also talks about the gaps in understanding that remain after more than a decade of investigating these contaminants and gives a sneak-peak at USGS’s latest projects. 

Find previous issues of UpClose and additional resources at

New DEA rule makes it easier than ever to safely dispose of unwanted meds

September 8th, 2014 by
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has just announced new regulations for the disposal of controlled substances that make it possible for retail pharmacies to collect pharmaceuticals, including controlled substances. The long-awaited policy change, which goes into effect Oct. 9, means there could soon be many more locations—and more convenient ones at that—for you to dispose of your unwanted medicines. 
Permanent and single-day collection programs have been a reality in many communities across the country for years. But these programs were led by city, county, and state police departments, the only groups allowed to accept controlled substances from those looking to properly dispose of the unused medicines. This limited the number of available programs and often made it difficult for the public to properly dispose of their pharmaceuticals conveniently.
Law enforcement agencies will continue to manage take-back programs under the new regulations. But they can now be joined by manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, and retail pharmacies.
The new law does not create new collection programs, and it doesn’t require others to either. The amendment to the Controlled Substances Act simply makes room for groups outside law enforcement to voluntarily establish mail-back programs or maintain collection boxes. Retail pharmacies also have the option of administering collection programs at long-term care facilities.
We are very happy that the regulations are finally out. But the work around here will continue much as it has for the last seven years. Our pollution prevention team will continue to educate the public on the proper use, storage, and disposal of PPCPs. And they are still working closely with communities to set up legal, sustainable take-back programs.  

Over 12,000 pounds of medicine are not in local waterways

August 20th, 2014 by

You have probably heard that pharmaceuticals have been found in rivers and streams, groundwater, and drinking water throughout the country, in part because medications are sometimes flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash. While the contamination levels are not yet proven to pose health threats to people, studies have shown that these chemicals are have been linked to impaired development, behavior, and reproduction in aquatic wildlife.

In 2013, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, which has been a leader in addressing the need for safe medicine disposal, provided assistance to 39 permanent collection programs in both states. IISG also supported single-day collection events in 14 communities by assisting with the collections, writing press releases, and providing educational materials. 

As a result, 12,040 pounds of medicine were properly disposed of through permanent collection programs and single-day events supported by IISG. The medicine was destroyed using high-heat incineration, thus reducing the potential for diversion or accidental poisonings and keeping the chemicals out of local water.

To learn more about how IISG is empowering communities and individuals to secure a healthy environment, check out our 2013 program impacts.



UpClose with Steve Mauro

August 6th, 2014 by
Steve Mauro’s research into the impacts of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) on bacterial communities may have started as a small side project, but it has become so much more. The Gannon University dean gained national attention in 2011 when he and his research team discovered that small concentrations of fluoxetine are killing E. coli in the nearshore waters of Lake Erie. Today, Mauro continues to investigate exactly where and how fluoxetine and other pharmaceutical chemicals, both individually and combined, are changing the microbes that keep aquatic ecosystems healthy. And it is this work that brought IISG to his office bright and early on a June morning.
In this issue of UpClose, Mauro goes beyond his work on PPCPs to talk about the importance public outreach and about new efforts that are making it easier for forecasters and beach managers to predict when E. coli levels may make a trip to the beach more trouble than its worth.
Check out this and previous issues of UpClose at

Two IISG projects chosen as APEX 2014 award winners

June 19th, 2014 by
The APEX awards are given each year by Communication Concepts to recognize outstanding publication work in a variety of fields, and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant projects were selected this year for awards in two categories. 
Laura Kammin and Anjanette Riley of our Unwanted Meds program received an award in the category of Green Writing for their edition of UpClose with researcher Rebecca Klaper. The UpClose series interviews professionals working in the pollution and water quality fields to learn about the latest discoveries and projects related to pharmaceuticals and personal care products. 
Additionally, Sarah Zack, Pat Charlebois, and Jason Brown were awarded in the Green Campaigns, Programs & Plans category for their work on our “Be A Hero – Transport Zero” campaign and messaging, and for the website. The campaign is designed to show boaters, fishermen, and other recreational water users how simple it can be to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species between water bodies. 
These projects are just two of the many that IISG continues working on to help the public learn about, protect, and preserve Lake Michigan and waterways throughout the two states. To learn more, visit our website.

New grant helps secure disposal boxes for Indiana communities

May 16th, 2014 by
The Indiana Household Hazardous Waste Task Force (IHHWTF) has awarded our Unwanted Meds program with funding to help support new pharmaceutical collection programs in the state. This is the second time in as many years that IISG has been recognized for its efforts to reduce pharmaceutical pollution in Indiana.
“IISG has been instrumental in providing financial assistance for take-back programs in Indiana,” said Scott Morgan, IHHWTF president. “Without this support, some of the programs may not have been established.”  
The $1,000 gift will go to purchasing secure collection boxes for communities interested in creating permanent prescription disposal drop-off locations. These types of easy disposal locations help to prevent unused medicine from contaminating aquatic environments, protect children and pets from accidental poisonings, and reduce prescription or over-the-counter drug abuse.
IHHWTF has provided financial support to programs working to reduce household waste for several years. The task force works with private and public groups across Indiana to educate the public on the proper handling and disposal of a range of environmentally-harmful chemicals—from medicines to batteries to motor oil.
Communities interested in starting their own medicine take-back program can contact Laura Kammin with questions and for additional support.

Get an insider’s view of emerging contaminants with UpClose

August 5th, 2013 by
A new interview series takes readers behind the scenes of the latest research on pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCP). In UpClose, researchers working in the Great Lakes region talk about where these contaminants come from, what they mean for aquatic habitats, and how they can be effectively managed. With its focus on making science accessible and providing practical management solutions, each edition gives you a unique look at an emerging ecological threat. 
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant kicked off the series with a conversation with Timothy Strathmann, an environmental engineer at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Later editions featured the work of Maria Sepulveda, a toxicologist at Purdue University, and John Kelly, a microbiologist at Loyola University Chicago. Each interview targets a different component of PPCP research—everything from what happens to pharmaceuticals when water is treated to what bacterial resistance could mean for other aquatic wildlife living in urban rivers. Readers also get an insider’s view of the complex, and sometimes tricky, process of conducting field studies and the potential implications of research on industries and regulations. 
In upcoming editions, Ball State’s Melody Bernot will explain the surprising roles location and season play in pharmaceutical pollution, and Rebecca Klaper at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will talk about how research into the effects of these contaminants could lead to changes in how they are made, used, and treated. 
All UpClose editions are available in print and online. For print copies, contact Susan White. For more information about PPCP pollution and what you can do to reduce its impacts, visit

IISG offers assistance and info at successful DEA national take-back event

May 2nd, 2013 by
Illinois and Indiana residents took full advantage of the latest national prescription drug take back event this past Saturday, bringing unwanted pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medicines to locations set up for the one-day event. IISG staffers were again involved, promoting it through local radio and TV interviews and talking to visitors at Walgreens stores in Champaign and Urbana about the risks pharmaceuticals pose to aquatic environments. They also provided information about how to safely dispose of medicine between these national take-back opportunities.  
By the end of the 4-hour event, officials in Champaign and Urbana had collected 12 large boxes of unused medicine. These and other boxes collected throughout the country will be properly incinerated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). A final tally for how many pounds of pharmaceuticals were collected during the sixth National Take-Back Day will be announced by the DEA in the coming weeks. At last September’s event, Illinois residents brought in over 21,000 pounds of unwanted medicine for proper disposal, followed closely by Indiana’s 18,560 pounds. More than 2 million pounds of medicine have been disposed of nation-wide since the take-back days began in 2010.  
IISG volunteers were also onsite to tell residents of the two cities about a new year-round collection program launching May 24. Like last year, many who brought in pharmaceuticals – often by the bagful – said they had been holding onto their medications for months, waiting for the next collection day. Permanent collection boxes at the Champaign, Urbana, and University of Illinois police departments mean residents will no longer have to wait for single-day events like these to rid their homes of unwanted pharmaceuticals. 
To learn more about permanent programs operating in your area, or for information on how to dispose of medicine where collections are not available, visit  

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