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Apr 16, 2010 1:25 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southrifty Drug will accept old medications as part of national program

Apr 16, 2010 1:25 PM

Clear out your medicine cabinets, avoid tempting youth with prescription drugs, and help clean up local waterways all at once.

That is the premise behind a nationwide safe drug disposal program for unwanted pharmaceuticals set to coincide with Earth Week, which runs from Saturday, April 17, through Sunday, April 25.

Expired cold medications, partially used bottles of painkillers, old inhalers and even narcotics will be accepted in their original containers, free of charge, at Southrifty Drug on Jagger Lane in Southampton Village this Wednesday, April 21, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. No questions will be asked, according to organizers.

“Each year in the United States, more than 71,000 children aged 18 and younger are seen in emergency rooms for unintentional overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,” the Southrifty website states, citing research from the Office of National Drug Council Policy and U.S. News & World Report. “More than three in five teens say prescription pain relievers are easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets; half of teens say they are easy to get through other people’s prescriptions; and more than half say prescription pain relievers are ‘available everywhere.’”

Bob Grisnik, owner of Southrifty Drug, which is participating in this event for the first time, also underscored the urgency of properly disposing of prescription drugs to prevent them from seeping into the groundwater.

“If you flush them down the toilet, they go into the cesspool. It goes to the waste disposal unit that’s up in Riverhead that sits right on the Peconic River. They process all that sludge, put the effluent back into the Peconic River, which flows down into Peconic Bay and there’s drugs in that water,” he said at a recent Tuckahoe School Board meeting.

Lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world have become a cocktail of pharmaceuticals due to the improper disposal of drugs. Antibiotics, steroids, mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants and sex hormones are among the prescription medications that have been found in Americans’ drinking water.

Drugs dropped off at Southrifty will be sorted by four local pharmacists, secured in bins and shipped to an incinerator in Texas, where, Mr. Grisnik explained, the energy released from the burning will be put back into the local grid.

The event is based on a program developed by the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents more than 23,000 community pharmacies, franchises and chains, including Southrifty Drug.

Norsic & Son Sanitation is among the event’s sponsors and the company is expected to provide speakers at the pharmacy throughout the day. Southampton Village Police will assist in the disposal of certain drugs, such as narcotics. Representatives with the Group for the East End are expected to speak during the day, and there will also be a live radio broadcast on WLNG of Sag Harbor. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi are also among those expected to speak, according to Mr. Grisnik.

“These are waters that we haven’t tread before,” he said about next week’s event, adding that his pharmacy will look into using a local incinerator if the program is successful. “We don’t know if we’ll get one box of drugs, or 10 garbage cans full.”

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Thank you, Southrifty drugs. People need a safe way to dispose of pharmaceuticals that present a real risk to children and water supplies.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Apr 16, 10 2:10 PM
Thanks Bob, You are a true reminder of one of the last vestiges of what a community is all about. You are one of the FEW that keep me living in the area.
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Apr 16, 10 10:16 PM
Bob Grisnik is taking part in a National Campaign to secure unused medications. The Long Island Pharmacists Society is encouraging many of its member Pharmacies to participate also. The safety of disposing unused medication is the #1 goal. Keeping drug availability out of the hands of our youth is primary, along with the enviromental protection which is accomplished by their proper disposal.Thanks Bob for this effort.
By farmacista1 (6), southampton on Apr 17, 10 10:46 AM
Well, that's the good influence, of a great steel town for ya'.

His sense of civics, community, and caring are some distinctly "old school" attributes.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 20, 10 7:43 PM