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September 18, 2012

Proper disposal will protect Wisconsin's communities and environment

MADISON -- People with unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs will be able to properly and safely dispose of them during many one-day "Take Back" evens that are scheduled in communities across state on Sept. 29.

"Unused medications impact Wisconsin's communities through accidental poisonings, drug abuse and related crimes," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. "When drugs are flushed or disposed of in landfills, they may also impact Wisconsin's air, surface waters, groundwater, fish and wildlife."

Local law enforcement agencies and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration have scheduled prescription drug "Take Back" events that will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at more than 130 Wisconsin locations. These events are free and anonymous and intended for household medications.

People can find locations of the DEA-sponsored events being on the "Take Back Initiative" (exit DNR) page of the DEA website.

The Sept. 29 events are not the only option available for Wisconsin residents, according to Barb Bickford, DNR medical waste coordinator.

"There are now 154 locations throughout the state that accept unwanted medications on an ongoing basis," Bickford said. "These include at least one permanent drop-off location in 52 of the state's 72 counties. Many of the remaining 20 counties are served by one-day collection events."

DEA reported that a "Take Back" day last April was a great success, with a record 37,642 pounds, or 18.7 tons, worth of prescription drugs were dropped off at collection sites throughout Wisconsin, which made Wisconsin the third largest contributor of unwanted medications in the country.

In 2011, a total of more than 92,000 pounds, or 46 tons, of pharmaceuticals were collected in Wisconsin by municipalities, household hazardous waste programs, the DEA and a mail-back program run by the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

"Prescription drug abuse is a significant problem. More deaths were caused last year by prescription drug abuse than by heroin and cocaine overdose deaths combined," said SAC Jack Riley, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Chicago Field Division. "The National Take Back Initiative is an excellent way to reduce the potential for misuse by providing a safe and secure method for people to clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of unused medication anonymously."

People can find locations of both permanent (on-going) collection sites and one-day events for household medications, visit the following University of Wisconsin Extension website: Wisconsin Medication Collection Sites and Events (exit DNR).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Barb Bickford, 608-267-3548

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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