The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and pharmacies across the state are launching a program today believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. Tom Anderson is coordinator of the D.N.R.’s Solid Waste Alternatives Program – or SWAP. He says more than 300 pharmacies in 96 of the state’s 99 counties will now accept old or unwanted medications from customers for proper disposal.
Anderson says each of the pharmacies will have collection boxes. Those boxes, when full, will be shipped to a company in Texas for destruction. The TakeAway program is designed to keep dangerous drugs away from kids and pets. In addition, proper disposal of the medications should improve the state’s water quality.
“We’re beginning to see studies where they’re finding pharmaceutical chemicals in waters, which is often a source of drinking water for Iowans and also has impacts on certain aquatic life,” Anderson said. Most wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not able to remove pharmaceutical chemicals. The TakeAway program will be administered by the Iowa Pharmacy Association with a $165,000 grant from SWAP.
Anderson says the grant will help pay for a public awareness campaign, the cost of the collection boxes and final disposal. Not all medications are accepted. Those details and participating pharmacies are posted online at www.iarx.org/takeaway.