Disposing prescription medications improperly is a concern


Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Michael Bradford

PADUCAH, Ky—Close to half a trillion dollars are spent on expenses associated with prescription drugs.  According to Medline Plus, an estimated 20 percent of people in the United States have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.

It is a serious and growing problem and now the way drugs are being discarded is an even bigger concern.

Director of Paducah Joint Sewer Agency John Hodges said improper disposal of medicines can hurt you and the environment.

"Anything that you flush down the toilet or a sink or a shower, comes here, the vast majority of the things you flush they will dissolve, but pharmaceuticals aren't one of them," said Hodges.

It is not only a problem for the sewer company, Hodges said it is a concern for our health.

"When you flush anything down the toilet, if we can't treat it, it will go out to the river...There are people downstream of us that rely on the river as their water source," said Hodges.

Pharmacist at Davis Drugs, Marshall Davis, said he fills a couple hundred prescriptions a day, but it is what people do after they are done taking them that worries him.

"Flushing them is probably not the best idea, it may be the most expedient, but you introduce them into the water supply or into the sanitation system. even disposing them in the trash may not be the best idea," said Davis.

Hodges said it is all about trying to avoid a bigger problem in the future.

"An ounce of prevention creates a whole pound of cure," said Hodges.

The Kentucky State Police and the Drug Enforcement Agency want to remove controlled substances from home medicine cabinets.

Troopers will be taking back expired or unused prescriptions tomorrow at post one on U.S. 45 in Graves County, KY. They will be there from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

KSP will have 18 drop-offs across the state tomorrow for drug 'Take Back.' To find your location, click here.