Every year millions of medications are prescribed in the U.S. that, for a variety of reasons, never get taken by patients. Sometimes a doctor changes a prescription, or a patient simply doesn’t take all of his or her medication.

Whatever the reason, these drugs are a serious threat to people and the environment. Detectable amounts of medications are showing up in our water systems. While much of it is a byproduct of consumption, there are things we can do to reduce the amount of waste reaching our waterways.

Unfortunately, under the current laws, pharmacies cannot take back unused and unwanted medication. There are several ways to dispose of old or unused medications:

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control, will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that stay too long in home cabinets may be misused or abused.

The current local collection sites in southeast Wisconsin are:

  • Concordia University,12800 N. Lakeshore Dr., Mequon Wis.
  • South Milwaukee Police Department, 2424 S. 15th Ave. South Milwaukee, Wis.
  • West Allis Police Department, 11301 W. Lincoln Ave., West Allis,Wis.
  • Grafton Police Department, 1891 Washington St., Grafton, Wis.
  • Franklin Police Department, 9455 W. Loomis Ave., Franklin, Wis.

More locations are being added, so check the DEA website to find the location near you.

Another opportunity is the “Get the Meds Out” program, sponsored by the University of Wisconsin – Extension. This program provides free postage-paid padded envelopes for residents to mail unwanted medications to a disposal site. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Pharmacy and the Skywalk Pharmacy are participating and can provide envelopes. You can call the Children’s Hospital Pharmacy at (414) 266-3300 or the Skywalk pharmacy at (414) 266-7893. A list of participating locations is available.

~ Jan Cryns, BS, RPH, pharmacist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

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