Safe Medicine Disposal Program A Success In Santa Barbara County

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Source: Public Health Department

The Santa Barbara County MED-Project, which operates a local program to collect unwanted medications, has released its first annual report for 2018. The collection of unwanted medicine began in early 2018 and during the year collection occurred at 32 Kiosk Drop-Off sites established throughout Santa Barbara County. Approximately 9,000 pounds of unused medications were collected during 2018.The former “Operation Medicine Cabinet” was collecting 9,000 pounds of unwanted medication with all costs covered by County funds. In contrast, pharmaceutical companies that sell products in this county pay for the newly established MED-Project program.

The safe medication disposal program was developed because of the Extended Producer Responsibility Ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors in 2016. This program assures that any unwanted (expired or excess) medications can be disposed of in a safe and efficient manner in our county. The program also ensures protection of the environment with the elimination of flushing unwanted medicines down the drain, or having them exposed to theft in the trash. Santa Barbara County Environmental Health Services oversees this program.

Projections for 2019 anticipate 9,000 pounds of unwanted medicines will be collected in the second year. Early indications are that the projection will be exceeded significantly. “Assuring that unused and unwanted medications are disposed of properly is critical to protecting the environment from introduction of pharmaceutical chemicals into our surface and ground water as well as reducing the risk of opioid/narcotic abuse. The MED-Project provides a system of convenient and accessible safe drop-off locations for unwanted medications that all citizens are encouraged to use” shared Larry Fay, Environmental Health Services Director for the Public Health Department.

To locate a Drop-Off Kiosk near you, visit

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Flicka Nov 23, 2019 09:48 AM
Safe Medicine Disposal Program A Success In Santa Barbara County

07:31am, What a sad story you are telling us. However, I think you have no reason to feel guilt. You did what you knew, at the time, to be the best way to handle the left over medicines. I'd say there is no way you could have even imagined anyone would be experimenting with the drugs. Who would want to take an old man's medicines? Thank you for giving all of us a good reason to dispose of drugs no longer useful to the patient. You may have saved another family from heartache.

a-1594313135 Nov 23, 2019 07:31 AM
Safe Medicine Disposal Program A Success In Santa Barbara County

I wish we had this 11 years ago, but grateful we have it now. A catastrophe happened at my home when my son and some friends experimented with unused medications I had not disposed of. I had just moved my father from my home to hospice and they provided their own medications so I still had some in my refrigerator and put the rest in a box up in a closet temporarily. I had been trying to figure out how to get rid of them and hadn't found a way to do so yet so I put them up, except for what I had forgotten about in the fridge. They weren't there long before bad things happened! While I was away my 18 year old son had some friends over, they were curious and took some of these meds. Unfortunately one of them suffered an overdose and did not survive. It had only been a week or two since my father had moved and I never thought my son would be interested in trying any of this stuff. Dumb of me, kids are kids! At the time there wasn't a place to drop off meds, I was told by the police to add water to the pill bottles and to throw them in the trash that way, AFTER the fact. My heart grieves for the loss of this young man, for the sorrow his mother and family has gone through, for the trauma my son experienced when he couldn't revive him, and for the other friends who witnessed it. I have a heavy guilt and sadness in my heart for what happened, always will. His mother never forgave me. Learn from this, dispose of unused meds, even good kids make bad choices and it only takes 1 bad choice to be lost forever!

MRC Jan 21, 2020 09:39 AM
Safe Medicine Disposal Program A Success In Santa Barbara County

Hi - I know this posting is from November, some 2 months ago, but I hope you will still receive this reply. My name is Ric Hovsepian, I manage the Secure Medication Disposal Program for Santa Barbara County Environmental Health. Your story is tragic, and my heart goes out to you and all those affected. Your story also speaks to the purpose of our program and epitomizes the need for it! Might you consider letting me interview you and have you tell your story? I would love to discuss this with you. I'm not sure if I'm aloud to put my contact information in this forum, but here we go. If it gets deleted, I guess you can reply to this message. Many thanks in advance and thank you for sharing, Ric Hovsepian [email protected] (805)-681-4759

Luvaduck Nov 23, 2019 02:04 PM
Safe Medicine Disposal Program A Success In Santa Barbara County

The part of our brains that controls impulse and assesses risk competently isn't completely mature until early-20s for males & only a few years earlier for females. Loving relatives hold their breath when their kids/grandkids navigate the choppy water during the years it takes for judgment to catch up w/hormones.

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