More than 9,000 pounds of unused and outdated medications were collected throughout Santa Barbara County in 2018.
The Santa Barbara County MED-Project, which operates a local program to collect unwanted medications, released its first annual report for 2018.
There are now 32 Kiosk drop-off sites throughout the county, including one near the Diagnostic Imaging department at Lompoc Valley Medical Center. LVMC was the first location in the county to receive a kiosk.
The Kiosks are paid for by pharmaceutical companies that sell products within Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services oversees the program.
Larry Fay, Environmental Health Services Director for the Public Health Department, predicts that a similar amount will be tallied for 2019.
“This program assures that any unwanted (expired or excess) medications can be disposed of in a safe and efficient manner in our county,” Mr. Fay said in a release. “The program also ensures protection of the environment with the elimination of flushing unwanted medicines down the drain, or having them exposed to theft in the trash.”
Program administrators note that medicines help treat diseases, manage chronic conditions and improve the health and well-being of millions of Americans. They stress that it is important that patients take their medicines as prescribed by a healthcare provider. But, if there are expired or unwanted medicines, proper disposal is important, easy and free.
Mr. Fay said that early indications project the 9,000-pound estimate will be “exceeded significantly.”
“Assuring that unused and unwanted medications are disposed of properly is critical to protecting the environment from introduction of pharmaceutical chemicals into our surface and ground water as well as reducing the risk of opioid/narcotic abuse. The MED-Project provides a system of convenient and accessible safe drop-off locations for unwanted medications that all citizens are encouraged to use.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that accidental exposure to medicine in the home is a major source of unintentional pediatric poisonings in the U.S. In the U.S., an estimated 60,000 emergency department visits and approximately 450,000 calls to poison control centers are made after children younger than 6 years old find and ingest medication without caregiver oversight.
Medications may be dropped into the kiosk in their original containers, or in a sealed bag. The box is not to be used for herbal remedies, vitamins, supplements, cosmetics, personal care products, medical devices, batteries, mercury-containing thermometers, sharps or illicit drugs.
To protect patient privacy, people using the Kiosk are reminded to remove all personally identifiable information on medication labels or packaging before dropping unwanted medicines into the locked box.
In addition to LVMC, other local locations include Hometown Pharmacy, Public Health Pharmacy and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office on Harris Grade. LVMC’s site is accessible 24 hours a day. To locate any Drop-Off Kiosk log onto https://med-project.org/locations/santa-barbara/.
More information about the program, as well as information in Spanish, is available at www.med-project.org.