Project Rx helps keep our rivers clean
Pharmacists play a major role in patients’ lives — not only by dispensing prescription medications but also by providing valuable information about those medications.
As a pharmacist, I realize our responsibility doesn’t end there. We also share in the job of taking care of our planet and keeping it free of pollutants such as expired or no longer needed pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, some of the more than $300 billion in prescription medications used by Americans every year make it through the sewage treatment process and into the waterways.
Keeping prescription and overthecounter medications out of the environment is an important way to prevent pollution and protect our critical natural resources. After being flushed or poured down a drain, many medications pass through sewer and septic systems. Because these systems can’t always treat or remove all of the medications, they may end up in streams, lakes and groundwater. This can cause adverse effects in fish and other aquatic wildlife as well as unintentional human exposure to chemicals.
Closer to home, there are other reasons to properly dispose of the unwanted medications and keep them out of the wrong hands. We hear all too often of unfortunate situations with teens and adults taking other family member’s medications. Unfortunately, this may, and sometimes does, result in a life-threatening situation. When people have medications left after a loved one dies, family members often do not know what to do with them. Bringing the remaining medications to a drug takeback program is the best solution to properly dispose of them, keep them from being misused or abused, and lessen pollutants in our environment.
You can make a difference, save lives, and help keep waterways and landfills less polluted by getting rid of old or unwanted medications properly through Project Rx.
Project Rx is a drug takeback program sponsored by ReWa that began in 2010 in collaboration with several Upstate organizations. Project Rx is about protecting our rivers and our residents by properly disposing of medicine, whether for environmental protection, pharmaceutical education or drug abuse prevention.
Its success relies on participation by the public to bring old and unwanted medications to designated locations for disposal. The process is simple, offered at no charge and with no questions asked. That means anyone can drop off any kind of medication and the event organizers won’t question the drug or where it came from. Project Rx is an enormous public safety benefit from our community partners to our community members.
Many partners including Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, ReWa and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office are actively committed to decreasing the amount of old and unwanted pharmaceuticals in our communities through Project Rx.
Since 2010, Project Rx has collected more than 10,866 pounds of unwanted medication. This is more than just a number. It means 10,866 pounds of drugs won’t fall into the wrong hands and be used illegally; be casually thrown in the trash and end up in a landfill or pollute our waterways after being flushed down the toilet.
Our next Project Rx event will be held this fall. Plan to stop by our drivethru location to do your part to keep our waterways and environment clean and safe. But until then people can drop their unused medicine and pharmaceuticals at the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center.
I encourage you to take a few minutes now to go through your medicine cabinets and collect your old and unwanted prescriptions, overthecounter medications, vitamins and supplements, and veterinary medications. Be sure to use a black permanent marker to block out any personal information on labels, but please leave the drug name visible to ensure proper disposal procedures.
In addition to proper disposal, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control recommends reducing the number of unwanted medications by purchasing only the amount you need, centralizing all medications in your home in one location and saying “no” to samples you won’t use.
Roseann Becher, RPh, is the director of Pharmacy at St. Francis Eastside. Bon Secours St. Francis Health System is a Project Rx partner.