(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) September 21, 2012 --- In an effort to eliminate accidental poisonings and reduce environmental contamination caused by pharmaceuticals, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) have released a new guide for pet owners that contains important strategies for the proper storage and disposal of medicines.
“This brochure carries an important message,” explains Dr. Douglas Aspros, president of AVMA. “Many people don’t understand how dangerous medications can be to their pets or to the environment. Prescription medications are the number one cause of accidental poisonings in pets, so it is important to make sure you store medicines out of reach of pets and dispose of them properly.”
Prescription for Safety: How to Dispose of Unwanted Medicine identifies and describes 5 simple Do’s and Don’ts of pharmaceutical stewardship: 1) Use as directed, 2) Store correctly, 3) Don’t flush, 4) Don’t share or sell, and 5) Properly dispose. The brochure also provides pet owners with information on locating local medicine collection programs, as well as what to do if a program is not available nearby.
Proper storage of prescription and over-the-counter medications is necessary. Each year, more than 25,000 pets are accidentally poisoned when they consume human or veterinary medicines they find around the home or in the garbage. The disposal method for expired or unused medications is also important. Studies have found low levels of pharmaceuticals in lakes, rivers and drinking water around the country.
“While the potential human health impacts are still uncertain,” said Laura Kammin, IISG pollution prevention specialist, “many species of fish and other aquatic wildlife living in the contaminated waters have shown impaired development, behavior and reproduction.”
For the past six years, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant has advised communities on how to establish safe and legal permanent medicine collection programs in addition to educating people on pharmaceutical waste reduction and other pharmaceutical stewardship issues.
For more information on the effects of improper pharmaceutical disposal and initiatives designed to reduce the risk, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/unusedmeds or www.avma.org/disposal.
For a list of the “top ten poison pills for pets,” video links, a joint PSA, and information on policies and other resources visit the AVMA website.
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) is one of 32 National Sea Grant College Programs. Created by Congress in 1966, Sea Grant combines university, government, business and industry expertise to address coastal and Great Lakes’ needs. Funding is provided by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana. Visit the IISG blog at http://lakesideviews.blogspot.com. You can also find IISG on Facebook and Twitter.