The University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Wisconsin Department of National
Resources and Capital Returns, Inc., a GENCO Supply Chain Solutions' Company, bring drug safety issues to the forefront with the launch of a
safe consumer medicine return trial.
PITTSBURGH, May 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Get the Meds Out, a consumer medication return pilot program, is set to launch this week with more than 500,000 potential participants in a two-county area in Wisconsin. The pioneering initiative, a joint effort between the University of Wisconsin - Extension (UWEX), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Capital Returns, Inc. (CRI), promises to provide a safe drug disposal alternative to the local community while bringing national attention to drug safety issues affecting the public and the environment.
A research report published by the U.S. Geological Survey, determined that pharmaceuticals have been detected in multiple waterways in the U.S. This report puts a spotlight on the growing concern that improper disposal of pharmaceuticals is negatively impacting our environment.
"It is yet unclear what effect pharmaceuticals in the environment may have on humans, but it is clear that some aquatic species have been adversely affected," says Joanie Burns, Chief of the DNR's Hazardous Waste Prevention and Management Section. "Regardless, anything that can be done to prevent pharmaceuticals from entering into the environment in the first place is something we should all support."
The federal government, through its Office of National Drug Control Policy, issued federal guidelines for proper disposal of unused medications through household solid waste methods; however, these still include a reference to flushing some unused medications, and a national uniform program still does not exist for households to dispose of unwanted pharmaceutical products.
Even so, the concept of a unified medication return program has been on the table at CRI, the pharmaceutical industry's leading processor of pharmaceutical returns, for years. When the company was invited to present a mail-back consumer medicine return model at the 2006 International Unused Drug Conference in Portland Maine, it was a golden opportunity to accelerate and fine-tune details of their process, which uses reverse distributors to properly dispose of outdated and unused medicine.
"We are in the business of safe drug disposal for leading retailers and manufacturers in the pharmaceutical industry and a program tailored for the public has been on our agenda for some time," says Mary Hendrickson, Director of Quality and Regulatory Affairs for CRI and a registered pharmacist. "The challenge was to design a simple way for the public to get their unused medication to us for safe disposal and we were pleased when our medicine mail-back program became a reality through this pilot."
With newfound enthusiasm, Ms. Hendrickson and CRI brought the model back to Wisconsin and together with UWEX, created an ad-hoc group of individuals charged with addressing consumer pharmaceutical waste in the state. The group, led by Steve Brachman, Waste Reduction Specialist for UWEX, included Waukesha and Winnebago County recycling managers and other local county solid waste officials as well as representatives from the EPA, Illinois Indiana Sea Grant program, Wisconsin DNR and CRI. By early 2008 funding was secured to administer a pilot program and work began to assemble partners to help with awareness and execution.
Under the pilot program, consumers residing in the two counties will be able to call a special 800 number (1-800-958-5859) to receive instructions and a pre-paid shipping label. CRI, a company licensed as a reverse pharmaceutical distributor, will handle the calls and provide a return authorization and send out a pre-paid label for the old or unused medications, excluding controlled substances. This process allows CRI staff to personally explain the process. Once residents receive their pre-paid labels, they place their old medicine in a container for delivery back to CRI. Products received by CRI will be processed, separated into appropriate waste categories and then disposed of through incineration. The entire process is free to consumers.
"This was a team effort with the whole community embracing this initiative," says Mr. Brachman. "Because of the cooperation of so many, we're able to pull it all together and secure numerous retail business partners to assist in spreading the word to the public."
As the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency begins its attempt to modify regulations that would potentially clear the way for more national and statewide drug take-back programs, the significance of this first of its kind pilot is already being established.
"The word is out and we are attracting attention and several serious inquiries for similar programs from around the country," says Ms. Hendrickson. Mr. Brachman adds, "This pilot and the buzz it is creating will only help advance consumer understanding of the issue and ease the creation of a medication return program in the future.
For more information, visit http://www.capitalreturns.com.
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