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Source: Newsday

Unused medications can now be disposed of at some King Kullen pharmacies

BY TED PHILLIPS

Posted: November 14, 2014
Originally Published: November 13, 2014

Long Islanders can now dispose of unused medications at pharmacies in King Kullen stores as the grocery chain becomes the first to offer the service locally, environmentalists and company officials announced Thursday.

Dropping unwanted and unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs at the grocery store is "the easiest, most convenient and safest method for safe disposal," Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said at a news conference in Massapequa Thursday. The Farmingdale-based organization led a coalition that includes Bethpage-based King Kullen, the New Jersey-based drinking water and wastewater utility United Water and the Suffolk County Water Authority to address unused drugs being flushed down the toilet.

"Once those unwanted drugs are flushed, they are going into Long Island's drinking water and coastal supplies," Esposito said.

The organizers cited studies by the U.S. Geological Survey that have found traces of medications in Long Island's waterways.

King Kullen pharmacists at three locations in Nassau County and eight in Suffolk will collect medications in tamper-resistant boxes. People can drop off any prescription medication with no questions asked, officials said. Once full, the boxes will be shipped to Texas to be incinerated.

"Clean water is of great importance; it's something we all have to get involved in and protect," said Albert Hesse Jr., King Kullen director of pharmacy. "It also solves the problem of it's not in your medicine cabinet for someone to misuse."

The collection boxes will remain behind the counter and only pharmacists will have access to them.

Citizens Campaign for the Environment and the Suffolk County Water Authority will lead education campaigns, while King Kullen and United Water will pay for the effort. The costs will depend on how much is collected, officials said.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency last month issued new rules that allow pharmacies to collect the drugs. Those rules were implemented as part of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act passed by Congress in 2010. In the case of controlled substances, such as the opiate hydrocodone, the only legal way for patients to dispose of such medications before the new rules was to give them to law enforcement agencies, which led to people flushing the drugs down the toilet, the DEA notes on its website. A Nassau County pilot program last year collected several hundred pounds of discarded pharmaceuticals.

King Kullen grocery stories with pharmacies that will accept unused medications in Nassau County are located at 598 Stewart Ave., Bethpage; 3284 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown; and 271 Jericho Tpke., Syosset, according to the Citizens Campaign.

In Suffolk, the stores are located at 50 New York Ave., Halesite; 552 Montauk Hwy., Center Moriches; 460 County Road 111, Manorville; 1235 Middle Country Rd., Middle Island; 5507-200 Nesconset Hwy., Mount Sinai; 795 Old Country Rd., Riverhead; 307 Middle Country Rd., Selden; and 25 Old Main Rd., Mattituck, according to the organization.