Police departments, recreation centers and a handful of grocery stores will accept and dispose of unused medications in the St. Louis region as part of a semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday.
Public health officials recommend that people dispose of unused medications to prevent accidental poisoning or addiction. While flushing pills down the toilet may be effective, it can contaminate the water system. With that in mind, a growing fixture at the take-back days are plastic disposal pouches, filled with a carbon compound. They can hold up to 45 pills, and a once cup of water is added, the mixture breaks down into a substance that is safe for a landfill.
Alongside take-backs in the St. Louis region this weekend, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals donated 50,000 pouches to be distributed to senior centers, home health care groups and other locations. The Irish drug manufacturer maintains its U.S. headquarters in St. Louis.
Until recently, opioid manufacturers like Mallinckrodt did not warn patients of narcotics’ addictive properties.
“That’s why we’re here today, sponsoring these medication pouches, so we can continue the conversation and expand education and awareness about the safe use of our products,” Elaine Haynes, a vice president of alliance management for Mallinckrodt, said at a demonstration of the pouches. “Our understanding of the short and long term effects of all medications has evolved.”
Mallinckrodt promised in June to donate 1 million pouches nationally to help prevent the abuse of prescription painkillers.
In the St. Louis region, 445 people died of a heroin or other opioid-related overdoses in 2014, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
To search for a collection site for National Take-Back Day near you, visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s directory here:
Central locations in the St. Louis region include:
- The Heights Community Center, 8001 Dale Ave., Richmond Heights
- St. Clair Square, 134 St. Clair Square, Fairview Heights
- Wehrenberg Theatre Chesterfield, 450 THF Blvd, Chesterfield
- Shop N Save, 2122 Troy Rd., Edwardsville
- Arnold City Hall, 2102 Jeffco Blvd., Arnold
You don’t have to wait until a drug take-back day rolls around to dispose of old prescriptions if you visit a participating police department. NCADA keeps a list for the bi-state St. Louis region on its website.
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This post has been edited to correct the number of take-back pouches donated. It is 50,000, not 55,000.