Thursday, May 25, 2017

BLOG: Take It Back to the Pharmacy

by Hallie Schimenti, Nebraska Pharmacists Association

The Nebraska MEDS Coalition was formed in response to studies by the U.S. Geological Survey that found traces of pharmaceutical and personal care products in drinking water sources across the United States. In response to this emerging environmental crisis, the Coalition has worked to create one message in regards to drug disposal: “Take it to the pharmacy.” 

From January 1, 2016 to April 31, 2017 nearly 27,600 pounds of unwanted and leftover medication has been collected across the state of Nebraska. Nebraska MEDS provides over 300 pharmacies with boxes for non-controlled substances and envelopes for controlled substances utilizing the Sharps Compliance TakeAway Environmental Return System. This program exists with no cost to the consumer or pharmacy; it is fully funded by grant appropriations from the Nebraska Environmental Trust

The Coalition stresses the environmental importance of proper pharmaceutical disposal. Flushing medications down a toilet or drain can infiltrate the water, and trashing medication ends up in a landfill. The Statewide Drug Disposal initiative is the most environmentally-friendly way to destroy pharmaceuticals. After a box or envelope has been filled in a pharmacy, it is sent to a medical incinerator in Texas. 

Pharmacies continue to join forces with the MEDS Coalition to make “Every day a take-back day in Nebraska.” Nebraska MEDS utilizes grant money from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to educate consumers and providers, visit pharmacies, and market the take-back initiative to pharmacies and consumers around the state. KETV television out of Omaha has created commercials, print and online ads, and radio segments as part of a marketing campaign. Additionally, Nebraska MEDS personnel continue to exhibit at various health professional conventions, seek partnership with those in political office, and raise awareness via social media.

The Nebraska MEDS Coalition is made of up of diverse agencies and organizations committed to proper medication disposal and environmental protection. 

For more information about the Coalition or to find a participating Nebraska pharmacy, visit


Hallie Schimenti is the MEDS Project Coordinator for the Nebraska Pharmacists Association. Reach her at

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