When Manatee County residents flush prescription medications down their toilets, these chemicals can end up in the local ecosystem, including inside fish and other wildlife.
Studies have shown that the prescription drugs Paxil and Zanax flushed away have been found in fish, said Ally Bergmann, prevention coordinator for The Manatee County Abuse Prevention Coalition, locally known as Drug Free Manatee.
“And then we eat those fish,” Merab Favorite, a Drug Free Manatee spokeswoman, said Monday.
Drug Free Manatee is one of four Florida coalitions participating in a nationwide pilot program called “Deterra” that enables people to responsibly dispose of unwanted and unused prescription pills, liquids and patches at their homes by using a free pouch.
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Manatee County received 12,500 Deterra drug deactivation system pouches and has been giving them out free at public events, like Sunday’s Bradenton Marauder baseball game.
The bags work hand in hand with Manatee County’s many drug disposal kiosks, Favorite added.
“I think Deterra is great because we have a lot of older residents in this area and they don’t drive, so they are not able to go to these kiosks,” Favorite said. “It’s nice to give them a place to dispose of their meds.”
Manatee County has drug disposal kiosks at three Manatee County Sheriff’s Office locations, including a 24-hour location 600 301 Blvd. W. There are also kiosks inside Bradenton, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach, New College, Palmetto and Longboat Key police departments.
Deterra looks like a plastic granola cereal pouch from the grocery store.
The bag is made of degradable material. Inside the bag, there is carbon-based material that can neutralize the medicines, making them safe to throw away in the garbage, Bergmann said.
“You don’t think about it, but those prescription medicines transfer to marine life,” said Bergmann, who gave out Deterra pouches at the Marauder baseball game Sunday. “We have to respect it.”
A Deterra pouch can absorb 90 pills, 12 ounces of liquid and 12 patches, Favorite said.
“It’s easy,” Favorite said. “You place the unused medications in the pouch, fill the pouch halfway with warm tap water and wait 30 seconds. Then you seal the bag tightly, gently shake the bag and then dispose in the normal trash.”
Once sealed, the bags are not reusable, Bergmann said.
Those interested in a Deterra bag are asked to call Drug Free Manatee at 941-224-5840. Drug Free Manatee is located at the Manatee County Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton and the bags can be picked up there once a call is made, Favorite said.