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State: Take back, don't flush unwanted meds

From staff reports • Apr 12, 2017 at 10:00 PM

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is continuing its push to expand collection points for the disposal of unwanted medications.

TDEC insists the move protects water quality by reducing the amount of pharmaceutical products being flushed, poured down drains or sent to landfills.

“The permanent bins offer a safe and convenient way to dispose of unwanted medication while creating opportunities for residents to promote environmental protection and safe communities,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Protecting our environment is a team effort. We want to do what we can to equip our citizens with the tools they need to do their part to take individual action to make a positive impact on the environment and the health of their communities.”

Collection points in Sullivan County include the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the Justice Center in Kingsport. This year’s “Take Back Day” is April 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Through TDEC’s Unwanted Household Pharmaceutical Collection Program, there are now 224 permanent collection bins for expired, unused or unwanted household medications across all of Tennessee’s 95 counties. In 2016, more than 80,000 pounds of medication was collected, almost five times more than during the program’s first year in 2012. About 8,000 pounds have been collected in Kingsport, according to the Kingsport Police Department.

“Prescription drugs can create a risk in every household where they are present, and state and local agencies have been eagerly working together with public and private partners to provide Tennesseans with a simple solution for proper disposal of unused, expired and unwanted drugs to help reduce the risks of accidental overdose and death,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner. “We know approximately 95 percent of drug overdoses are accidental, and many but not all are a result of intentional misuse. Reducing the amount of prescription drugs in the community helps lower the risk of poisoning from any cause and will save lives.”

Since 2012, TDEC has been working to expand collection sites with partners including: local law enforcement agencies; the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA); the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); the Tennessee Department of Health; the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS); the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI); and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

“This multi-disciplinary collaboration is an excellent way for the TBI and partner agencies to make a difference in combating the opioid epidemic, using cost-effective methods with improved efficiency,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn.

Medications accepted through Tennessee’s Collection Program include liquid prescriptions, medicated ointment, pills, over-the-counter medications and pet medications.

For a map of bin locations statewide, visit http://tn.gov/environment/article/sp-unwanted-pharmaceuticals. Drop-off locations can be found here: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.

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