KHI News Service

Drug disposal program enrolls 32 pharmacies in first month

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | June 04, 2012

A map showing the locations of pharmacies and household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities is available at

View larger photo

After its first month of operation, the Kansas Medication Disposal Program has 32 participating pharmacies statewide that can collect unneeded or unwanted prescription drugs.

A map showing the locations of the pharmacies and household hazardous waste facilities was released today by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Debra Billingsley, executive secretary for the Kansas Board of Pharmacy, said the level of participation in the voluntary program so far is what officials expected when it was launched in April. There are 287 chain pharmacies and 289 independent pharmacies in Kansas.

"We're pleased with the interest in our disposal program and look forward to seeing additional pharmacies being added to the locator map as this interest grows," Billingsley said. "Already, we have Kansans taking in their uncontrolled medications to these neighborhood pharmacies. Otherwise, those medications would still be in the home where the risk is there for improper use, intentional or not."

More Americans abuse prescription drugs than use cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

And the number of people treated at Kansas hospitals for unintentional drug poisoning has increased 150 percent since 2000, according to KDHE officials. Between 2007 and 2009, children ages 5 and younger had the highest emergency department visit rate. Of the 2,499 people who went to the emergency room for drug poisoning in that period, 952 were children.

Until recently, unused prescription drugs were classified as hazardous waste, which meant legal disposal of drugs was difficult. One undesired result was that the drugs often were flushed down the toilet, creating problems for the municipal treatment plants that clean the water.

Now, the drugs essentially have been reclassified as regular household waste, which makes it easier for the pharmacies to accept the old drugs.

Those without a nearby collection location may take steps to safely dispose of medications with regular household waste, KDHE officials said. To do so, medications should be crushed and mixed with cat litter or coffee grounds.

Any unused drugs that are not controlled substances may be taken to participating pharmacies and household hazardous waste facilities. Drugs containing controlled substances — including ephedrine and most narcotics, such as pain relievers, antidepressants and sleep aids — can be taken to local law enforcement locations. For more information, contact a local sheriff’s office or police department.