Breen Targets Improper Prescription Drug Disposal through Public Information Campaign Legislation

State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has passed legislation to create a task force to inform Illinoisans of the methods and benefits of proper disposal of pharmaceuticals and the risks associated with improper and non-disposal of those products. Through SB 2524, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) would provide administrative support of a newly-created Pharmaceutical Disposal Task Force, with assistance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education. The task force, which would serve without pay, would be in place through 2022.

“Increased abuse of prescription medications by people other than the individuals for which they were prescribed has reached a crisis point in Illinois,” said Breen. “We’re learning that the medicine cabinet is the primary source of drugs for teens and that older teens and young adults actually engage in ‘pharm parties,’ where kids steal prescription medicines from home, take them to a party, and share them with friends. It’s a dangerous game that sometimes has deadly consequences.”

In addition to the risks associated with people taking pills that were prescribed to someone else, Breen pointed to significant environmental concerns that result when unused pharmaceuticals are poured down sinks or flushed, causing them to enter the public water supply.

“Drugs enter our water supply when people flush their unused pharmaceuticals down the toilet or pour them down the sink,” Breen said. “While water from sewage is filtered and chlorinated, drugs remain in the water, posing a threat to families who drink water from the tap. This issue could be largely preventable if folks take advantage of opportunities to properly dispose of their unused or expired medications.”

With passage of the bill in the House and Senate, SB 2524 now moves to Governor Rauner for his signature.

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