In 2007, there were 255,732 cases of improper medicine use reported to Poison Control Centers in the United States. Approximately 9% of these cases (23,783) involved accidental exposure to another person’s medicine. Approximately 5 thousand of these accidental exposure cases involved children 6 years and younger. In a study that looked at cases of accidental child exposure to a grandparent’s medicine, 45% of cases involved medicines stored in child-resistant containers. Cases of inadvertent exposure to some of these medicines were recently published in the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ 2007 annual report. On Saturday, April 26, National Prescription Drug “Take Back” Day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., several local Police and Fire Department facilities and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public its eighth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards. Don’t forget those medicinal products also used for your pets. And check the expiration dates on the canisters of inhaler medications. Depending on the type of product and where you live, some inhalers and aerosol products may be thrown into household trash or recyclables, or may be considered hazardous waste and require special handling. Read the handling instructions on the label, as some inhalers should not be punctured or thrown into a fire or incinerator. Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. The National “Take Back” Initiative Collection site List can be found at http://www.takebackyourmeds.org or by calling 1-888-869-4233. I found 57 locations listed in the Bi-State Metro area when I typed in the 63128 zip code!