The U.S. Geological Survey's ground-breaking 2002 report on pharmaceuticals and personal care product (PPCP) in U.S. waterways showed that 80% of surface waters sampled nationwide contained one or more pharmaceutical or personal care product compound. Subsequent reports
of “intersex” fish in wastewater-impacted waterways brought the issue of pharmaceutical pollution from wastewater effluent to the attention of not only water quality professionals, but also regulators and the media. To address one source of pharmaceuticals in the environment, local
and state agencies as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the country have launched pharmaceutical takeback programs to reduce improper disposal of unused and expired medication. This paper discusses the numerous benefits of pharmaceutical take-back programs, some of the regulatory
challenges to establishing them, and details a variety of approaches to conducting collection programs already underway. These programs may serve as a model for a future national drug return program.
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