“We spoke to so many different people to put on this event, from police officers to student organization leaders on campus to Jimmy John’s representatives,” said Reema Abi-Akar, a senior in urban planning. “We looked into case studies of past medicine take-back events, learned the ropes, and slowly absorbed all of the components we needed to replicate to put on a successful event.”
University of Illinois students and faculty took a break from the end-of-semester chaos earlier this month to take advantage of a single-day medicine take-back. The student-led event was part of the Learning in Community (LINC) service course facilitated by IISG.
“Preparations for the event were challenging,” added Rosalee Celis, project manager and senior in biomedical engineering. “There were various marketing aspects that still had to be completed and communication between a 10-member team over Thanksgiving break was difficult. However, the efforts exerted during this crunch time made the results more satisfying.”
The event was a success, collecting 15 pounds of unused medicine for incineration in just six hours.
This was just one of the outreach projects led by the LINC students this year. The class, which includes eight students and two undergraduate project managers, also gave an interactive presentation to an ESL class at Urbana High School to raise awareness of the risks of pharmaceutical pollution and the importance of proper disposal.
“Our group truly feels like we made a difference in the community and spread the word about proper medicine disposal,” Reema said.
And the course has been an eye-opening experience for the students as well.
“To be honest, I started this experience with little to no knowledge about proper medicine disposal,” Reema continued. “All the old medications in my parents’ medicine cabinet were simply collecting dust for years because we never knew how to get rid of them. Once I came into this LINC class and my group began researching the subject further, I became more and more interested in it—and I believe I’m speaking for my entire group as well.
“I can now enter the professional workforce in the pharmaceutical industry with the awareness of potential environmental damage due to pharmaceutical waste,” said Rosalee.
A federal appeals court yesterday unanimously rejected a challenge by the pharmaceutical industry to a local ordinance that would require drug manufacturers to pay for the disposal of unwanted medicine in California’s Alameda County, the first law of its kind in the nation.
Approved by county supervisors in July 2012, the Alameda County Safe Medication Disposal Ordinance requires the makers of prescription drugs sold in the county to fund the collection, transportation, and disposal of unused or expired medications from residential sources. The requirements are similar to those underpinning successful medicine collection programs in Canada, France, and Australia.
Implementation of the law was stalled in Dec. 2012 by a lawsuit filed by industry trade associations. With support from drugmakers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the groups argued that the ordinance illegally shifts local costs to out-of-county producers and interferes with interstate commerce. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco disagreed, saying the ordinance treats local and non-local manufacturers equally and imposes no substantial burden on interstate trade.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers could still appeal to the Supreme Court. If the decision stands, it could serve as a precedent for a similar measure in Washington. In the wake of the Alameda County ordinance, the King County Board of Health passed a law requiring manufacturers to install medicine drop-off boxes and provide pre-paid, pre-addressed mailers upon request.
The county was sued in Nov. 2013, with drug manufacturers comparing the ordinance to requiring news publications to conduct paper recycling or food producers to collect spoiled food. That case was put on hold until the Alameda County lawsuit could be resolved.
Laura Kammin, our pollution prevention specialist, has some exciting news. Let’s let her tell you about it:
If you only had a minute, what would you say?
If you only had a minute, what would you say?
Just one minute to explain what pharmaceutical waste is and how people can help reduce it. That was the challenge posed by our new pollution prevention team members Erin Knowles and Adrienne Gulley.
Challenge accepted! Here it is, the first installment of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Pollution Prevention Minute.
We know it’s a long name. But don’t worry, the content isn’t. They’re one—ok, maybe sometimes closer to two—minute videos that give easy-to-understand answers to some of the more complicated questions surrounding the use, storage, and disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
Why videos? We are always getting asked questions like “what happens to the medicine that gets collected?” and “what are microbeads?” We think these new videos are a fun way to share the answers.
And be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch for the next episode of IISG’s Pollution Prevention Minute.
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.
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