FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 18, 2010
Report Released on Pharmaceutical Mail-back Pilot Program Funded by EPA
Agency provided $150,000 grant to University of Maine's Center on Aging
to undertake study
WASHINGTON -Through 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
"This pilot is important because it has filled research gaps about the
volumes and types of medications that can end up in our waters, and
affect our ecosystems," said Peter S. Silva, assistant administrator for
EPA's Office of Water. "The pilot also gave residents a way to serve as
environmental stewards to reduce water pollution."
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
The grant is part of EPA's larger efforts to protect the health of older
adults and encourage older adults to engage in environmental stewardship
in their communities. Older adults were actively involved in the design
and implementation of the safe medicine disposal; for Maine pilot
To view the executive summary of the report:
Pharmaceuticals in my water is very bad news.