Expired and Unused Meds Cause Risks: County Looks To Set Up Wider Disposal Program

Andrew Trzaska | August 11, 2011

When families and individuals have leftover or expired medication from illness or medical procedures, different, they can become liabilities.

If medication is kept, opportunities arise for theft if it becomes known outside of a household that the medication exists.

Alternately, throwing away or flushing medications can cause controlled and potentially dangerous substances to enter landfills and water supplies.

Currently, the Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program (MAMDP) holds events four times a year to collect unused over-the-counter and prescribed medications.

According to the group, 2010 was their first year of collections, and over five special days collected 2,300 pounds of medication from over 700 residents of the county.

With the program’s success, they are currently exploring ways to expand operations to make it an everyday service.

If all goes as planned, many law enforcement offices across Muskegon County may add secured, metal boxes inside the doors of their buildings, where people can drop off these medications.

By the MAMDP’s proposed plan, existing funds will be used to build and place these secured containers in Muskegon, Roosevelt Park, Montague, and Norton Shores Police precincts.

Based on a vote Tuesday from the County Board of Commissioners, they also plan on requesting $5,000 from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County to expand the program to both Muskegon and Fruitport townships plus the cities of Muskegon Heights, North Muskegon and Whitehall.

Law enforcement from across the county will contribute $10,000 to the project as well.

Muskegon County Sustainability Coordinator Leslee Rohs, a member of the MAMDP’s steering committee, explained that the idea for the program comes from a similar program in the City of Wyoming in neighboring Kent County.

She also noted that the reason the medications must be dropped off at police stations is because controlled substances must be held by authorized parties, like pharmacies, patients with prescriptions, or in this case, law enforcement.

Non-controlled, over-the-counter meds are accepted at numerous pharmacies around town every day; this program would create avenues for the controlled types of drugs to be dropped off virtually any day.

If funding is secured for the project, the MAMDP plans to use local fabricators to make the boxes to certain specifications that ensure they cannot be tampered with.

Once collected, the sheriff or other local police forces would be required to deliver the collected medications to an incineration facility in Kent County specialized in getting rid of these things.

Rohs noted that while this plan is not a “go” yet, there is confidence that it would help increase the amount of medication collected by the County if enacted.

Until the box plan moves forward, the MAMDP’s next collection date is Saturday, October 8 at the Norton Shores Fire Station.

Controlled substances (including narcotics), over-the-counter medications, inhalers, steroids, pet medications, vitamins and more will be taken on that date.

For more information on the MAMDP.com: http://mamdp.com/

For more information on Kent County’s program: http://www.wmtakebackmeds.org/

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst