Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Milwaukee County. According to a recent report, more than 70 people have died from probable drug overdoses in Milwaukee County in the past seven weeks. Many drug abusers get their first exposure to illegal drugs through unused legal medications that get into the wrong hands.
Consistent with its’ business model and former slogan, “there’s one on every corner,” Walgreens, the freestanding corner drugstore, is setting out to not only have people buy medications but it is targeting opportunities to help people dispose of unused medications in a proper and safe way.
Take Back Your Meds, Milwaukee, a coalition of businesses and organizations dedicated to eliminating the threat unused prescription medications pose to Milwaukee County families and the environment are praising efforts to make it easier for residents to dispose of old medications.
Walgreens announced that it would install medication disposal receptacles at 18 locations across the state, including five sites in Milwaukee County. That brings the total number of pharmacy drop boxes to seven in Milwaukee County, in addition to those hosted by police stations around the area.
“We applaud Walgreens for this initiative. Additional drop off sites will provide more convenient options for the community to safely dispose of their unused medications and keep them out the hands of children and adults,” said Kathy Schmitz, Executive Director of the Medical Society of Milwaukee County.
Prescription drugs also threaten the environment when they are not properly disposed of. When people flush unused pharmaceuticals down the toilet or throw them in the trash, the drugs can end up in drinking water. Improperly discarded medications end up in sewer systems and eventually into Lake Michigan, Milwaukee County’s source for drinking water.
Walgreens is the second pharmacy chain to offer safe medication disposal receptacles at its stores in Milwaukee. Take Back Your Meds, Milwaukee coalition partner Hayat Pharmacy has installed medication drop boxes at its West North Avenue and West Vliet Street stores. Every police department in Milwaukee County also has a drop box at its headquarters.
“Experience in other cities has shown that people are much more likely to use a drop box in a pharmacy than one in a police station. Walgreens is taking a great step toward creating more safe and convenient disposal locations, but much more needs to be done,” said Jon Richards, Coordinator of the Take Back Your Meds, Milwaukee.”
“Our community needs ten times the number of pharmacy drop boxes and much better public education on how to dispose of unused medicines. The police departments have stepped up. We need other pharmacies to follow the lead of Walgreens and Hayat Pharmacy.”