Where Should the Unused Meds Go?

"Recent studies have documented the presence of various pharmaceutical chemicals and metabolic by-products in surface waters and groundwater in the United States, and the issue of pharmaceutical use and management has become increasingly important," the EPA wrote on its Web site in its proposal to add pharmaceuticals to the Universal Waste Rule. "EPA is conducting research on the presence of pharmaceutical compounds in water bodies and any ecological effects the compounds may be causing, as well as research directed towards improving water treatment capabilities."

Cassel said the Product Stewardship Institute has attempted to facilitate talks between state government and pharmaceutical industry representatives to address the problem. He said both sides can agree not to tell people to flush medicine down the toilet.

But, "it's too expensive for the local governments to take it back," Cassel noted. "They feel like they want to do something, they want to protect their citizens but they don't have the funding to do it."

"At this point we got a lot of work ahead of us, I think this bill might have a chance at really making it all the way through," said Maine state Senator Anne C. Perry , a Democrat, who introduced the measure in Maine. "It's still not a definite, and we got a lot of work to do."

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