By KATINA TENGESDAL, Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org
North Dakota kicked off the TakeAway prescription drug disposal program at the North Dakota Pharmacy Association's annual convention in April, and organizers say the program has seen continued success.
"The program has been a great success so far, and well received by the public," said Michael Schwab, executive vice president of the North Dakota Pharmacy Association. "We have collected over 500 pounds of prescription drugs and supplies that have been turned in for proper disposal, and we expect that number to increase rapidly as more people become aware of the program."
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - Louise Bogenrief, pharmacist for Market Pharmacy, disposes of a medication by dropping it in the TakeAway box.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN - - A TakeAway program box is pictured at Market Pharmacy. Consumers can return unused medications to most local pharmacies for safe disposal.
The TakeAway program allows consumers to drop off unused or expired medications through the convenience of drop off boxes located in their community pharmacies.
Dropping off the medications to be disposed of properly ensures that the medications won't end up polluting water supplies when flushed down the drain, polluting landfills when thrown away, or ending up in the hands of prescription drug abusers.
"Before TakeAway, the majority of individuals used to flush prescriptions down the drain or throw them away, or stockpile them around the house," Schwab said. "Disposing of medications that way could lead to contamination of waterways, or situations where kids or pets get ahold of the medications."
Medications that are accepted through the TakeAway program include pills, tablets, caplets, ointments, creams, lotions, powders, inhalers, solutions and liquid medications.
Those that aren't currently accepted include controlled substances such as Vicodin, Hydrocodone or Valium, for example. Those substances can be taken to "Take Back" containers located at local law enforcement agencies.
The association responded to the need for medication disposal by joining with Sharps Compliance, Inc., to implement the TakeAway program statewide. The program is a collaborative effort with the North Dakota attorney general's office, which has implemented a similar program utilizing local law enforcement offices to take back used prescriptions, including controlled substances.
The attorney general, local law enforcement offices and over 230 pharmacies in the state are implementing effective drug disposal programs.
"We had been tossing around a solution for the problem, or a way to tackle the issue, for about a year," Schwab said. "We thought the TakeAway program would be a nice complement to the attorney general's program."
"We felt it was the right thing to do," he added. "Every day we have had patients asking the pharmacists what they were supposed to do with their unused drugs."
For patients with unused prescriptions, most local pharmacies are now able to help dispose of the medications.
"This is an ongoing program that pharmacies are participating in on a daily basis," Schwab said. "We anticipate the program to grow even further than it has already."