Drug take-back program encourages safe prescription drug disposal
A new program is now in place to help St. Louis-area residents dispose of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
The St. Louis County Police Department announced Friday that, starting immediately, Missouri P2D2 is placing medicine collection boxes at four different St. Louis County police stations. Residents can drop off prescription and over-the-counter drugs, no questions asked, 24/7.
“Our goal is to keep over-the-counter prescription drugs off the street and out of the river by collecting and destroying those drugs according to best practices,” St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said.
Missouri P2D2 is a nonprofit organization formed by a partnership among St. Louis County Police, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Missouri American Water, and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District.
One of the main reasons officials are concerned about proper disposal of unwanted medicine stems from what Fitch called St. Louis’ “serious drug problem.” Last year, about 90 people in St. Louis County died from heroin usage, according to Fitch. From what he’s seen, many people who use heroin started off with recreational use of prescription drugs.
“They get addicted to those products and they raid medicine cabinets of family members, grandparents, neighbors, friends,” he said. “When they run out of those, they start trying to purchase pills, which is very expensive. So they turn to heroin because it’s much cheaper.”
Medicine can also pose problems for younger children who don’t know not to swallow pills if they see bottles lying around the house.
“One of the most concerning issues that we see is medicine poisoning in children. We know that drug poisoning in American children has gone up 22 percent since 2001, which is an unacceptable increase,” Amy Tiemeier, vice president of Missouri P2D2, said.
Tiemeier, who is also the director of professional affairs and an assistant professor at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, said she often sees patients with expired medicine, and hopes this program will encourage people to get rid of medications they no longer use.
Environmental concerns also play a role in the program’s goals.
“It’s a common practice to take unused medication, prescription drugs, and dispose of them by putting them in toilets and flushing them down the drain,” Bruce Litzsinger, manager of environmental compliance at MSD, said.
However, MSD’s wastewater treatment process cannot detect or remove trace levels of chemicals in the water, according to Litzsinger. This means that whatever medications people dump down their drains end up in local rivers.
Instead of flushing medications collected by the program, Missouri P2D2 plans to have a local waste hauler incinerate the unwanted drugs.
“As our population grows, as our use of medicine grows, this is an important new development to have an environmentally responsible disposal option,” Litzsinger said.
Missouri P2D2 is the largest local program of its type in the U.S. and will complement already existing local and national drug take-back days. In addition to the four Missouri P2D2 locations, the police departments O’Fallon and Eureka also have collection boxes.
The four St. Louis County collection boxes are located at:
- St. Louis County Police Dept., North County Precinct, 11815 Benham Road, St. Louis, MO 63138
- St. Louis County Police Dept., Affton Southwest Precinct, 9928 Gravois Road, St. Louis, MO 63123
- St. Louis County Police Dept., South County Precinct, 3031 Telegraph Road, St. Louis, MO 63125
- St. Louis County Police Dept., West County Precinct, 232 Vance Road, St. Louis, MO 63088