Though a grant awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the
University of Maine’s Center on Aging has completed
the first statewide mail-back pilot program for managing pharmaceutical waste
from consumers. Studies show that pharmaceuticals are present in
our nation’s waterbodies and that certain drugs may cause ecological harm. EPA is
currently evaluating the potential risks associated with
pharmaceuticals and personal care products on public health and aquatic life.
The program included the use of mailers to return unused and unwanted
medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, from households. Maine Care
(Maine’s Medicaid program) established a limit for certain drugs on the quantity
that can be filled with an initial prescription. This policy is targeted at reducing
the supply and accumulation of unused medications and to prevent pollution. The
Maine legislature also recognized the value of the take-back pilot and enacted
legislation to continue the program for an additional two years. As part of the EPA
grant, the University of Maine’s Center on Aging developed a handbook on the
project and collected data on the type and amount of unused medications.
The National Council on Patient Information and Education’s (NCPIE) is a
Safe Medicine Disposal for ME
program partner. Ray Bullman, NCPIE’s
Executive Vice President, served on the project advisory team.