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ST. LOUIS - As a first-of-its-kind program, Schnucks Markets Inc. here is introducing an environmentally safe option for disposing of unwanted medications with its new RxMeds Take Back program in select pharmacy locations.
On the second and fourth Thursday of each month, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., pharmacists in 20 metro area Schnucks stores will accept and dispose of medications that would otherwise have been trashed or flushed. The program includes all forms (liquid, capsules or powder), but by law excludes narcotics and other controlled substances. Cintas, a St. Louis-based waste disposal company, is overseeing the collection and disposal.
Schnucks director of pharmacy Bob Mueller said the RxMeds pilot program is one of the first of its kind in the nation. It is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is the result of a partnership between Schnucks Pharmacies, Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS) and St. Louis College of Pharmacy, as well as several others.
"Literally tons of unwanted pharmaceuticals and personal care products enter the environment through sewage each year," said Mueller. "RxMeds gives our communities the opportunity to take corrective action and help reverse some of the ill effects unwanted medications are having on our water supply and on our environment."
Schnucks will track the product, which will enable the EPA to more closely study the amount of medication our community disposes of on a regular basis.
"Schnucks has always been an environmentally responsible retailer and we are excited to be able to offer a service that will help protect the environment and, at the same time, avoid misuse, theft, accidental poisonings and diversion of products," said Mueller.
Schnucks' program coordinators said they are hopeful that by launching the effort in the middle of cold and flu season -- when unwanted medication tends to clutter home medicine cabinets -- the program will be able to build acceptance in the community. Customers should bring back the medications in their original container, and for security purposes, customers will be asked to wait as the medication is identified.
"This is not only a service to our customers, but also a service to the community," said Mueller. "Over time, we hope to raise awareness among families in our community, particularly those with young children, understand the need to engage in safe disposal of out-dated or unwanted medications and on a regular basis."
At the outset, Schnucks' RxMeds is being offered at limited times and always under strict security. No controlled substances, medical equipment or household hazardous waste will be accepted. By law, no healthcare professional, may take back controlled substances (narcotics, depressants, stimulants or anabolic steroids that are regulated by the government).
Schnuck Markets, Inc. operates 103 stores (including five Logli stores) and 100 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi.