Program Provides More Milwaukee County Residents Access to Responsible Drug Take-Back Locations
Compiled by Milwaukee Courier Staff
Residents in Milwaukee County will join millions across the country in taking back unused prescription medications during National Drug Take Back Day this Saturday, October 28.
There’s an organization in Milwaukee County working hard to make sure residents can responsibly take back their meds to a secure drop box any day of the year, and always for free. Take Back My Meds MKE is leading the effort in Milwaukee County to establish a growing network of drop boxes. There are currently 46 drop boxes across Milwaukee County, located in pharmacies and police stations. For a comprehensive list and map, visit www.takebackmymeds.com.
To boost this number and help more Milwaukee County residents have convenient access to a secure prescription medication drop box, Take Back My Meds MKE launched a new program this week. The Adopt a Drop Box program provides local businesses and organizations the opportunity to sponsor a secure drop-box at a local pharmacy. The first partnership in the Adopt a Drop Box program is between host Hayat Pharmacy at their 53rd and Burleigh location and sponsor the Medical Society of Milwaukee County. Hayat Pharmacy already has two drop boxes at two other locations (1919 W. North Ave and 5928 W. Vliet St.), and the Adopt a Drop Box program allows them to host a third.
“At our first two drop boxes, we’ve collected hundreds of pounds of unused medicines that are now securely disposed of,” said Hashim Zaibak, founder and pharmacist at Hayat Pharmacies, a local pharmacy chain. “Hosting a drop box is an easy lift for pharmacies, and this program makes it even easier.”
This network of drug take-back sites helps combat the opioid epidemic by keeping unused prescription medications out of the wrong hands. 70% of opioid addictions start at home, and often from unused prescription medications left in medicine cabinets. In recent months, Milwaukee has seen a string of headlines highlighting opioid deaths. Getting those drugs safely off the streets at secure drug drop boxes is the only responsible way to dispose of them.
“Unfortunately, we’re fighting the misinformation that it’s OK to dump unused medications in the trash or flush them down the toilet,” said Jon Richards, Coalition Coordinator of Take Back My Meds MKE and a local attorney. But the trash isn’t secure and both flushing and dumping could affect our drinking water. “When people throw unused medicine into the toilet or the trash it tends to end up in Lake Michigan, the source of our drinking water,” said Amber Meyer Smith, Vice President of Programs and Government Relations at Clean Wisconsin. Like most sewage treatment systems, ours is not equipped to break down unused medicines. Using a drop box helps protect Lake Michigan, the safety of our drinking water and the health of Milwaukee County residents.
Take Back My Meds MKE is looking for more pharmacies to host drop boxes, and more businesses and organizations to sponsor them. “The Medical Society of Milwaukee County is proud to take this important step making it easier for Milwaukee County residents to responsibly dispose of their unused medicine,” said Kathy Schmitz, Executive Director of the Medical Society of Milwaukee County, the Adopt a Drop Box program’s first sponsor. “Whether it’s by sponsoring, hosting or using a drop box, we can all make a difference in the fight to end opioid deaths.” There’s a role each of us can play, and Take Back My Meds MKE hopes more businesses and organizations step up to help expand the network of drop boxes.
“The easy availability of unused prescription medications is a major factor in overdose, which is the leading cause of accidental death in Milwaukee County,” said Jon Richards, Coalition Coordinator of Take Back My Meds MKE and a local attorney. “Drop box hosts and sponsors can make a huge difference in the opioid epidemic by helping residents dispose of these medications responsibly. This campaign really is about what each of us can do.”
For more information on drop box locations, hosting or sponsoring a drop box, please visit takebackmymeds.com.