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Last week, Governor Tony Evers joined Advocate Aurora president and CEO Jim Skogsbergh and other health care and environmental leaders at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center to shed light on the importance of safely disposing unused medication. The event was organized by Take Back My Meds MKE who had installed a new drop box at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, 2900 W. Oklahoma Avenue, Milwaukee.

Governor Evers spoke to the role positive role drop boxes play in keeping the community safe, “These new drop boxes make it easy for people in Milwaukee County to safely dispose of unused medicine in a way that keeps it out of our waterways and out of the wrong hands.”

Prescription opioids are present throughout Milwaukee County, but are often not disposed of properly.

With 70% of opioid addictions starting at home, leaving unused medicine in the cabinet is not safe.

Additionally, simply flushing unused medicine down the toilet is not an adequate alternative because waste treatment systems are not designed to break down medicine.

Vicki Elkin, executive director of the Fund for Lake Michigan, attended the event and works to protect Lake Michigan. Elkin explained the issues caused by flushing medicines, “Sewage treatment plants cannot effectively treat unused medicines flushed down the toilet and as a result more than 30 different chemicals have now been detected in Lake Michigan near Milwaukee.”

Governor Evers highlighted these shared concerns about the proper disposal of medicines. “Improper disposal of unused medicines can contribute to the ongoing opioid crisis and pose a direct threat to our drinking water,” said Evers.

Amber Meyer Smith from Clean Wisconsin took Governor Evers’ comments about drinking water even further saying, “When unused drugs are thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet they end up in Lake Michigan, the source of Milwaukee’s drinking water. Drop boxes are the key to keeping pharmaceutical contaminants out of our drinking water.”

Other health care and environmental leaders also spoke about the need for proper disposal of medicines. Advocate Aurora Health president and CEO Jim Skogsbergh said, “The amount of medication falling into the wrong hands and into our waterways is alarming and we are proud to take the lead on making drop boxes available within several of our facilities so that anyone can safely dispose of unused medication.”

This is the fourth drop box that Aurora has placed at its facilities; other drop boxes are located at the Outpatient Pharmacy at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, at Aurora West Allis Medical Center and at
Sixteenth Street Community Health Center’s Park View Clinic.

The Aurora drop boxes are part of a broader coalition effort led by Take Back My Meds MKE to make it easier for Milwaukee County residents to combat the opioid crisis. “This drop box, and the eleven others our coalition has sponsored, are keeping more than one ton of medicine out of the lake every year and also combating the opioid crisis in Milwaukee,” said Jon Richards, coalition director of Take Back My Meds MKE.

A map of all drug take back locations in Milwaukee County, can be found at takebackmymeds.com.

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