- In observation of National Drug Take-back day this past Saturday, Mainers took thousands of pounds of unwanted, unused, or expired medications to 200 participating drop-off sites across the state.
- Last year's day-long collection took in 700,000 pounds of medication, diverting the waste from waterways and landfills, and keeping them out of the hands of people with addictions.
- Meanwhile the Northern York County Prescription Drug Coalition is establishing year-round collection by setting up return boxes at local police departments.
About 30% to 40% of medications are never used in the United States, and programs to address the resulting potential environmental and health risks are woefully lacking.
Only 1% of pharmaceutical companies offer a drug take-back program, but luckily there are many voluntary efforts to promote safe drug disposal, at least for a day. Initiators of these take-back campaigns are raising public awareness, and nudging consumers to change behaviors by first getting them to think about where their fast-accumulating wasted drugs end up. The Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada and Shoppers Drug Mart definitely drove the point home when they announced that their five-month campaign diverted a whopping 390 tons of medications, most of which would otherwise have polluted ground and water, or landed in the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, this past March, Massachusetts become the first US state to mandate a drug take-back program, holding pharmaceutical companies responsible for providing consumers a way to safely dispose unwanted medications. More progress has been made on a county level; six California counties and one in Washington require pharmaceutical companies to pay for this service.