Follow-up from April's Successful Return Unwanted Medicines Event


Larissa Graham, New York Sea Grant, 631.632.9216,

Stony Brook, NY, June 10, 2009 - On Saturday, April 18th 2009, over 140 participants returned almost 500 pounds of unwanted medicines at the “Return Unwanted Medicines” event sponsored by New York Sea Grant, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook Medical Center, Suffolk County Legislator Lynne Nowick, Suffolk County Health Department, Suffolk County Police Department Narcotics Unit, and Triumvirate Environmental Inc.

The event was held at the Setauket firehouse on Nicolls Road in Setauket, NY. Participants returned 2,059 containers of non-controlled substances (473 lbs), including 88,051 pills, 38.8 liters of liquid, and almost 18 pounds (8,113.4g) of powder. One-hundred forty-seven containers of controlled substances (23 lbs) were also returned, including 5,303 pills and 2.4 liters of liquid. The oldest medication collected was from 1965.

The most commonly returned substances were blood pressure and lipid-lowering agents (244 containers totaling 14,162 doses), followed by pain relievers, antibiotics, antianxiety and antidepressants, antihistamines and decongestants, vitamins and minerals, gastrointestinal prescriptions, drugs to treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, veterinary drugs, and antidiabetic agents.

According to our evaluation, over 34 towns were represented—with some participants traveling over 45 miles to attend the event. Most participants were returning their own or a family member’s medication because it had expired or they did not need the remainder of the medication. An overwhelming number (94%) of participants said that the event had increased their knowledge about the effects of pharmaceuticals on the environment and of better ways to dispose of unwanted medicines. All participants (100%) that filled out the survey said that they would attend another event, and the majority (52%) would like to see this type of event held once a year. Lastly, the majority of residents would like to see legislation at the town or village level to collect unwanted medicines.

Our committee learned many valuable lessons while planning our “Return Unwanted Medicines” event and is more than happy to lend advice to other agencies that are interested in organizing a similar event.

For more information about our event or to obtain our report about how to hold a successful pharmaceutical take-back program, please contact Larissa Graham, New York Sea Grant at 631.632.9216 or

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