Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Local drug disposal program goes international

Buy Now CARLOS T. MIRANDA Hannah Brozenec, then 8, blows bubbles at Deann Moran dressed in a Pill Bottle Phil costume on June 28, 2008, at a Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program-P2D2 Green Day at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington. It was such P2D2 efforts that have won the program national and international recognition and a chance for an award in Sweden. (Pantagraph file photo/CARLOS T. MIRANDA) 17 hours ago • By Lenore Sobota | (0) Comments PONTIAC — When science teacher Paul Ritter and his Pontiac Township High School students started a program for proper drug disposal about five years ago, they didn’t know it would lead to similar programs across the state and the country. Now, it is leading to an international competition in Sweden. The Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal program — P2D2 — is a finalist in the Volvo Adventure global environmental competition for youth, which is in partnership with the U.N. Environment Program. Ritter and four Pontiac-area teens along with a teacher and student from Reedsburg, Wis., who are also involved in the national P2D2 program, will travel to Goteborg, Sweden, in June. In addition to the expenses-paid trip and opportunity to spread the word about their program, they will be competing for a top prize of $10,000. Ritter didn’t know the program had been nominated for the award by people in Wisconsin until he received a call telling him P2D2 is among 12 finalists. Other finalists are from Brazil, China, Croatia, Egypt, Fiji, Isle of Man, Macedonia, Paraguay, Russia, Tanzania and Turkey. Students involved need to be ages 13 to 16. Team members going to Sweden are Madison Pfaff, Samantha Quinn, and Bailee Ritter — all PTHS students — and Taylor Ritter, a seventh-grader at Pontiac Junior High School. Quinn, a freshman, said, “The most exciting thing is we get to go and talk to other people and get the program out to the world.” Likewise, Paul Ritter’s daughter, Bailee, a freshman, hopes people will get the message that “it’s so easy for people to get involved. … Anyone can do it.” Ritter said everything is student-driven and it involves not only students in his science classes but those in English, art, music and theater classes. “It’s kids working with kids to make a difference,” Ritter said. “I tend to just be the chief cheerleader.” Having students come and go hasn’t seemed to slow the program. PTHS Principal Jon Kilgore said, “Between Mr. Ritter’s leadership and the environmental perspective of our students, the torch gets passed.”

Youth Service Governor's Volunteer Service Award

On April 19, 2012, Mary Perkins received the Youth Service Governor's Volunteer Service Award. The award recognizes individual volunteers for their community service in the State of Illinois. Mary is a junior at Effingham High School, and has been involved in 4-H for nine years.� Along with John Loy, Effingham County Chief Deputy, Michelle Loy, Effingham County 4-H Ambassador's leader, and fellow 4-H Ambassadors, Mary started the P2D2 program for the Effingham community. P2D2 stands for Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal, which is a national program that properly disposes of expired and unwanted pharmaceuticals. The P2D2 program helps prevent medications from being used inappropriately within households and also from harming the environment. Mary has volunteered numerous hours to start and sustain the P2D2 program in Effingham County. Congratulations Mary! Posted by Laura Kammin at 1:55 PM | | Categories: Collection Programs, For Teachers, In the News | Leave a comment

Making a difference Perkins earns state award for P2D2 program

April 25, 2012 Cathy Thoele Effingham Daily News EFFINGHAM — Effingham High School student Mary Perkins was among two dozen volunteers from around the state to win a Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for her work in setting up a drug prescription disposal program in Effingham County. She couldn’t be more thrilled or surprised. “I didn’t even know about the nomination,” she said. The P2D2 program began last summer in partnership with Effingham County Sheriff’s Department. It is designed to encourage proper disposal of unused prescriptions and prevent them from being flushed into the water supply. The risk has increased with the use of prescription drugs increase. United States Geological Survey studies have found traces of painkillers, estrogen, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines and others found in water samples from 30 states. The studies have linked hormone exposure to reproductive defects in fish, and environmental exposure to antibiotics to the development of drug-resistant germs. The drugs collected are instead incinerated and used as an alternative energy source. Perkins, an Effingham County Youth Ambassadors member, spearheaded a committee to implement the program after a local resident approached them about the program. The group began by writing a grant to cover the cost of purchasing secure metal boxes to serve as collection points for the medication. Each box costs more than $500, and recycling the medication can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,000. “It took nearly a year to get up and running,” said area University of Illinois Extension 4-H Community Coordinator Patti Logan, who nominated the 16-year-old for the award. “It’s great to see how it unfolded.” Now the program is in full swing, Perkins coordinates fellow ambassadors to sort through the medication every two to three weeks, with some parents chipping in. “It’s a team effort,” she said. Logan said the program keeps Perkins busy. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it,” she said. That work also includes finding additional funding for the program as it grows. “I’m about to start on a grant application right now,” said Perkins Tuesday. With 4-H programs focused on community service, the nearly decade-long member is used to volunteering. “If someone asks me, I won’t turn them down,” she said. Perkins was surprised at how much the program has grown. “When I was asked to be in charge, I thought it would be small,” she said. “I didn’t know it would grow into something this big.” Public response to the program has been overwhelming, with 750 pounds of unused medication being collected. “We definitely average one 25- to 30-pound garbage bag full a week, sometimes two,” said Effingham County Chief Deputy John Loy. The program not only helps keep the unused medication out of the water supply, but out of the hands of youth as well. “‘Skittle parties’ were becoming a trend in our community,” said Logan. “At these parties, youth would dump any unused prescription medication they could find in a bowl, and then consume a handful of pills with alcohol.” Residents can drop off expired prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs. The sheriff’s department goes one step further by providing a way to dispose of questionable or illegal drugs and paraphernalia. “If a parent finds something they don’t want to deal with, they can call us and we’ll pick up the drugs on a one-time basis with no questions asked,” said Loy. The drop boxes are located at most pharmacies in the area, as well as Effingham County Government Center, Effingham County Office Building, Teutopolis Village Hall, Altamont Municipal Building and Bonutti Clinic. Perkins is thrilled the program has caught on. “I think it’s awesome people are still bringing it in,” she said.

County leading charge to preserve planet 4-19-12

Pontiac, Ill. - For Pontiac Township High School science teacher Paul Ritter, Earth Day, Sunday, is one of the greatest days of the year. Historically, it is a day meant to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment. However, Ritter believes Livingston County has been leading the charge in preserving the planet for years. Livingston County now has: A recycling drop-off; a battery disposal program, which began in Pontiac and has been continued in Fairbury and Dwight; the Livingston County Environmental Association cleaning up the environment with its river clean up program and other endeavors; a storm sewer stencil project, keeping garbage out of the sewers; people in Humiston Woods working hard to preserve the natural habitat within the grounds; and a common understanding in the county to not throw trash away if it can be recycled. “Livingston County is showing what it means to be great stewards of our world and I can’t be more proud to be a resident. This is my home and as an environmentalist I look at the things that are going on and all I can say is, ‘Wow.’” This year, Ritter said Earth Day is as exciting as it’s ever been. Increased fuel prices have caused people to pay attention to how much gas they use and many car manufacturers across the board have been affected in a positive way. Manufacturers are reporting their best quarterly sales since 2008 due to people wanting to trade in their gas-guzzlers. “You look at what is happening with the cars and they are getting better gas mileage now,” said Ritter. “That is part of people wanting to do the right thing, but also economically people need to get more efficient. I think these are great examples of things that are going on which really do add to the current state of the environment and the current state of our communities. I would like to see us continue to get better and I think the whole thing will continue to evolve and technology will allow us to do that.” Another effort that people are starting to take more seriously these days is in recycling. Livingston County now has recycling systems in places where they didn’t exist before. Not only are they popping up in schools, but also in the businesses. People want to make sure options for recycling are available. “A lot of times we talk about the three Rs, reduce, re-use and recycle,” said Ritter. “I think we’ve even gotten one better here at the high school. We’ve got the fourth “R” too, which is re-think. We are re-thinking some of our decisions.” A lot of businesses are starting to look at standard operating procedures to see where things could be done more cost effectively. Some wonder if their desire is truly environmentally driven and others are sure it is because businesses want to feel good monetarily. Ritter believes it’s a little of both. He believes people see monetary returns as a very positive reason to recycle. However, he said there is also a good feeling people get from knowing what they are doing in their business is also giving back to the planet. “Look at Pontiac Correctional Center, even the prison is recycling,” said Ritter. “A couple years ago, the prison said they wanted to be a part of recycling, so we did a project with the prison to look at their garbage system and how we could improve it and now the inmates are recycling.” A quote Ritter often uses to explain his views on the environment comes from a Native American proverb that says, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” To Ritter, this quote means that if people learn how to be sustainable and conserve the resources and learn to be good stewards, the world will be preserved for future generations. “It also reminds me of another quote by Thomas Fuller,” said Ritter. “In 1732 he said, ‘We will never know the worth of water until the well is dry.’ I think people are realizing, we need to be mindful of what we do.” The next generation of children are learning about and celebrating Earth Day at a young age. Kindergarten students in Rita Mackinson’s class at St. Mary’s Grade School planted both Marigold and Soybean seeds in Styrofoam cups as an example of steps they can take to help beautify and enhance the world they live in. After the kids colored their cups, they were taken to a potting station where they used fresh soil to fill their cups, planted seeds in the soil and then topped the cup off with a little bit more soil before setting them by the windowsill to get some sun. People often ask Ritter if his love for recycling gives him a negative view towards the ADS Livingston Landfill. He explained that in his opinion, Allied Waste have been given a task and there will always be garbage. He also said that he has worked closely with them in the past and they are doing their best. “I think they do as good a job as they can do,” said Ritter. “Obviously, I would like to live in a world where they would not have as much waste, but when resources start to get a little limited, maybe they will start mining those landfills for resources. If they know where the material is at and it’s valuable enough, I think it could happen. Hopefully one day we will become so efficient that we have zero waste.” For PTHS freshman Hannah Dunlap, recycling is so commonplace for her, she can’t imagine a time when people didn’t recycle. “It’s good to recycle,” said Dunlap. “It’s important to me that there isn’t a bunch of garbage lying around and that our resources are still here for the next generation.” To people looking to make a difference, Ritter offered that even the littlest thing can be a step towards a cleaner Earth. Even something as simple as unplugging unneeded appliances or turning the light switch off when natural sunlight is available, the little things mount up. “Everybody has the potential to be a part of this,” said Ritter. “We have one planet and one Earth.”

Ex-QB Leaf nabbed in Montana 4-2-12

April 2, 2012 The Associated Press Former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf was arrested again Monday, just days after he posted bail on similar charges that he burglarized a home and stole prescription drugs, authorities said. Leaf was first arrested on Friday after police found oxycodone pills in his golf bag that an acquaintance later said Leaf stole from his home. Then early Monday, three days after posting a $76,000 bond, he was arrested again on accusations that he broke into another home outside Great Falls, Central Montana Drug Task Force Commander Chris Hickman said. The owners walked into the home Sunday afternoon to find a “tall man with an athletic build” inside, Hickman said. The man told the owners he had the wrong address and left. The owners later discovered three bottles of prescription medication missing and phoned police. After describing his truck, his clothes and his “shiny black loafers,” they picked Leaf out of a photo lineup. A search of Leaf’s home turned up 89 hydrocodone pills loose in the pocket of a bathrobe. Authorities do not believe those were the same pills that were taken from the burgled home, Hickman said. “We don’t know if he disposed of them or if he has a hiding place where he stores these things,” Hickman said.

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

If yours is like those in most households, you may have medicines that expired in the previous millennium, with pills, poultices, elixirs, solutions, snake oil, and other antiquarian finds that would be more appropriate to a medical museum than a medical cabinet. With the increased availability of cheap over-the-counter drugs, along with what is called the most expensive instrument in the field of medicine—i.e., the prescription pad—the rising tide of unused and expired medications threatens to overwhelm us. And in this case, “tide” has a double meaning, with a significant portion of medicines ending up in our water supply—and, eventually, in the food chain. This could have downstream effects on human health and has already been shown to impact fish and other wildlife. A related concern is diversion of unused drugs into the wrong hands. Many youths no longer need to find a dealer of drugs—they can just open the medicine cabinet in their own house. Aside from abuse, misuse of meds is a concern as well. Well-meaning parents may “prescribe” some unused antibiotics from a previous bout with the flu to their teen, unaware of the possible side effects and interactions that may occur. Finally, small children or pets may gain access to and become poisoned by drugs that are not stored securely. Breaking this cycle of medication mayhem requires thinking (and acting) both locally and globally. Medical assistants and other health professionals can play a key role by educating patients about proper drug disposal. They should also underscore proper use of drugs (for example, finishing all pills in a course of antibiotics) as well as the hazards of “repurposing” one’s prescriptions among friends and family. Further, they can work on the front end to limit overprescribing and thereby reduce the nation’s unwanted cornucopia of medications. Overkill, or overpill? The scope of the problem A few facts underscore the extent of the drug disposal problem the nation faces. From 1970 to 2010, spending on prescription drugs in the United States increased from $5.5 billion to nearly $260 billion. This translates into more than four billion prescriptions filled in the U.S. each year, says Philip P. Burgess, RPh, DPh, MBA, chair of the Illinois State Board of Pharmacy. “It has been estimated that as much as 35 percent of the dispensed medication goes unused,” Burgess adds. “This results in over 200 million pounds of pharmaceuticals, which can adversely affect the environment if disposed of improperly.” A 2008 investigation by the Associated Press found a veritable witch’s brew of pharmaceuticals in the nation’s drinking water, including “antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.” “Pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors are being detected in drinking water supplies in minute amounts—parts per billion and parts per trillion—amounts too small to be removed at wastewater treatments plants. While detection does not equal risk, some studies are beginning to show detrimental effects on aquatic life,” says Debra Shore, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in Chicago, one of the world’s largest wastewater treatment agencies. For example, researchers have found that drugs in our waterways are causing the development of “intersex” fish, which exhibit both male and female characteristics. Scientists have also charted “changes in behavior, reproduction, and growth in frogs, mussels, shrimp, and other aquatic animals,” leading to concerns of “the decline of entire populations through decreased reproduction and increased predation,” says Laura Kammin, Pollution Prevention Program Specialist at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, located in the University of Illinois in Chicago. At the same time, while it is true that pharmaceuticals in the environment could lead to “grave consequences” for wildlife, “comparing environmental impacts to those caused by misuse or abuse would be comparing apples to oranges,” Kammin says. “Misuse and abuse directly impacts human health and safety. There is an immediate concern in those cases because of the danger of overdose and also the risk of addiction and all the health and societal problems that can cause. The environmental damage is not seen immediately.” Indeed, one immediate danger is to young children and pets, who can be the victims of nondisposal or inadequate disposal of medications. Between 2001 and 2008, for example, more than 430,000 children five years or younger were seen in emergency departments due to self-ingestion of prescription and OTC medications; this led to 41,000 admissions, 18,000 injuries, and 66 deaths. And earlier this year, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center reported that, for the fourth straight year, human prescription medications topped their list of pet toxins, with OTC human medications ranked third. The other direct impacts on human health are drug misuse and diversion for illicit purposes (e.g., abuse). In fact, according to data from the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), prescription drugs are the second most abused drugs in the U.S., trailing only marijuana and far ahead of cocaine, heroin, LSD and other equally notorious substances. In addition, SAMSHA data show that treatment admissions for prescription drug abuse increased 430 percent in 10 years, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade.” Opioids (including Vicodin and OxyContin) and benzodiazepines (such as Vanax and Valium) are particularly seductive and are highly addictive, and are contributing in large part to the rise in unintentional overdose deaths. In short, “Generation Rx” is taking advantage of the easy access of prescription drugs in the home. “‘Pharm parties’ are an alarming and growing phenomenon among teens,” Burgess says. “After raiding their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine cabinets, the kids will pop random pills along with consuming alcohol.” Many teens are also under the mistaken impression that prescription drugs are somehow “safer” than street drugs. It’s not just the nation’s youth that are at risk, however: “Senior citizens’ homes are notorious for the sharing of medications among the residents,” adds Burgess. “This results in significant increases in drug interactions and negative side effects for these patients.” And the death earlier this year of singer Whitney Houston has brought renewed attention to the vulnerability of women to prescription drug abuse. Abuse is a daunting concern—and misuse is a serious issue as well. “People sometimes share their medications with friends or relatives, not realizing what a dangerous practice that can be,” Kammin says. “A doctor prescribes medication to a patient based on their medical history, calculating the proper dosage based on factors such as age and weight. Medications should never be shared. The potential for adverse reactions, or even death, is too great a risk.” Disposing of the problem: One man’s story So it’s readily apparent that the nation has a drug problem. But how do we solve it? And what role can proper disposal of unused medications play in the solution? Paul Ritter is a high school science teacher in Pontiac, Ill—not coincidentally, home of the second largest landfill in the U.S. One day in 2007, his wife asked how she should dispose of some old medications in their home. Unsure of the answer, Ritter posed it to the students in his ecology class, and the rest is history. The students investigated the issue and, alarmed at their findings, began to develop a grassroots media and advocacy campaign to draw attention to the problem. Their work led Illinois, in 2011, to become the first state to pass legislation to pay for pharmaceutical disposal through a $20 fine for specified drug-related offenses. Ritter is seeking to expand this work to other states, in his role as director of the National Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program, or “P2D2,” as it’s known. This collaborative effort between communities, pharmacies, police departments, hospitals, city officials, and students is intended to raise awareness of the dangers of inadequate drug disposal, including misuse and abuse as well as the environmental impacts. Ritter is a passionate advocate of the cause of proper pharmaceutical disposal. Although he is recipient of the 2011-2012 National Environmental Science Teacher of the Year, he is quick to give credit to his students for their work with P2D2. “It’s one of the greatest and humbling things I’ve ever been a part of,” he says. “When you inspire students to be agents of change, you can’t hold them back.” Further, his initial interest in this issue has expanded beyond a strictly environmental perspective. During an out-of-town school field trip to an aquarium, one of his students abused opioids and became severely impaired. That unfortunate incident “solidified what we were doing,” he says. “We need to really make sure that we take care of this. “This is our moral obligation to do so,” adds Ritter. “So I don’t have another parent who calls me to say that their child is dead. I look into the eyes of my children and my students, and I think that I have to do everything humanly possible to solve this.” “There oughta be a law” (or is there?) “We need to make it simple and easy for people to dispose of medicines safely and right now we don’t.” – Debra Shore. Currently, 18 other states have developed P2D2 programs, and Colorado, Florida, and Mississippi have pending legislation similar to that enacted in Illinois. This begs the question—what about a nationwide solution (e.g., from the feds)? In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act, to allow consumers to dispose of controlled substances more easily and help limit drug diversion. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will soon be issuing guidelines to implement this act, notes Burgess. The law is intended to “[address] a longstanding issue where patients were not allowed to return drugs to a DEA registrant because such a return would be outside the ‘closed chain of distribution’ established by the Controlled Substances Act.” More recently, the Pharmaceutical Stewardship Act of 2011, introduced to the Congress in last September by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), “would set up a nonprofit corporation financed by pharmaceutical producers who would be responsible for establishing comprehensive drug take-back programs in every state.” Currently in committee in the House, the proposed legislation has received backing from such organizations as the American Medical Association, American Rivers, and Natural Resources Defense Council. The popularity of (and the need for) drug take-back programs is indeed growing—but is take-back a keeper? A recent study of 148 such programs in 21 states and several countries found limited data to suggest that the programs help prevent prescription drug abuse. Only those programs that collect controlled substances have any impact on substance abuse prevention, the study notes. (It is important to add that the report does not analyze the potential environmental benefits of take-back programs.) Some take-back programs operate via mail-back envelopes, which can be especially convenient for people living in remote locations. For example, 100 tons of unwanted medications have been incinerated in an environmentally conscious manner through a nationwide mail-back program of Sharps Compliance, says Burgess. Meanwhile, Maine has a successful EPA-funded pilot program using free mailers, notes Kammin; it is the only mail-back program in the nation that can legally accept controlled substances. The 3 Rs of drug disposal As the recycling part of the equation, take-back programs are vital to any long-term solution, but a better approach might be to start with the first of the three Rs of the environment—“reduce.” Ritter believes this is critical. “We have responsibility to not overprescribe,” he says. “We need to be wary of the amounts put forward [into the system]”—a significant challenge given the prevalence of “tele-docs,” doctor-shopping, and pill mills. Whatever the source, a significant amount of prescribed medications are not being finished by patients. A study in New Zealand found that the majority of medications returned to community pharmacies had 75 percent of the original dispensed amount. One key is to change health professions education to ensure that students and practitioners are cognizant of the systemic side effects of overprescribing, and to look beyond an individual patient to see the larger population health consequences. “Some states have looked at mandating this type of educational program as part of a continuing education requirement for physicians and dentists in order to renew their licenses,” notes Burgess. “Prescribing excess quantities of medications is definitely contributing to the seriousness of this problem and has an easy resolution.” Adds Kammin, “Physicians should be mindful of the quantity of medication prescribed. Try a sample first to see if it will work for the patient. Do not unnecessarily push samples provided by pharmaceutical reps. Be aware of the consequences of having pharmaceuticals present in the environment. And educate patients on how they can responsibly dispose of any unused medications.” Stephanie Bell, CMA, medical assisting instructor/program manager at Illinois School of Health Careers in Chicago, believes that today’s medical providers are “very active in educating their patients” through preventive care, health awareness screenings, weight loss and pain management programs, and other interventions, thereby lessening the need for writing prescriptions. For the second R, “reuse,” many unexpired, perfectly good medications often go to waste. Taking advantage of this possibility poses some logistical challenges, to be sure. Burgess says that reuse is possible “only if the medication has been kept in a totally controlled environment to ensure no contamination or improper storage.” An analysis from England found that medications returned to pharmacies did not expire for another 17 months and that one-quarter of the medications could be reused. As for the third R—“recycle”—Ritter believes that “rethink” might be a better term. “Medication is a quality of life thing, and vital to health of so many, so I’m not a pharma basher by any means. But we need to be mindful not only of what we do with it but how we dispose of it. Then we can make good choices.” Disposal 101: What to tell patients Here are some guidelines to share with patients seeking advice on how to handle and dispose of expired medications, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The safest and most effective way to dispose of old medications is through a take-back program, which may be offered through household garbage or recycling services, local pharmacies, or police departments. If no such program is available, people should: • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and • Throw the container in your household trash Flushing? If, and only if . . . Once considered the best method of disposal, flushing unused drugs down the toilet “should be absolutely discouraged,” says Burgess. “Unfortunately, because the public has become much more aware of not flushing drugs down the toilet, it has exacerbated the problem by drugs staying in the medicine chests for years making them readily available for pilferage.” For a certain select list of medications, however, the FDA recommends disposal via flushing if they cannot be disposed of via a take-back program. These drugs “may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal in a single dose if they are used by someone other than the person the medicine was prescribed for,” says Shelly Burgess, Public Affairs Specialist at the FDA. “Any potential risk to people and the environment from flushing this small, select group of medicines is outweighed by the real possibility of life-threatening risks from accidental ingestion.” A list of these medications is available at What is your role? Medical assistants can help address drug disposal in many different ways. “In the office setting, it is the responsibility of the medical assistant to monitor the sample closet for expired medications and also to dispose of them according to the office policy,” says Bell. This can help reduce the chances of drug diversion. When working with patients, “medical assistants could help by directing people to local medicine collection programs or providing tips on disposal via the trash if collection programs are not available in their area. They could also help educate people on the dangers of sharing medications . . . [and] make doctors aware of this issue.” Also critical are patient education and follow up on proper use of drugs and adherence to prescribed regimens. At a larger, community-wide level, says Ritter, “medical assistants can play a vital role to get patients to set up community [take-back] programs of their own, and [by] working with students to help them be the leaders of change.” Sidebar: Links for more information Safe Medicine Disposal for Maine Program National Community Pharmacists Association National Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program, or “P2D2,” ( Take Back Your Meds Disposal of Unwanted Medicines toolkit Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants (PPCPs)

Illinois American Water to Receive American Water Works Association's 2011 Communication Achievement Award

February 14, 2012 Karen Cotton 309.566.4126 309.566.4126 Illinois American Water to Receive American Water Works Association's 2011 Communication Achievement Award National award to be presented for community pharmaceutical disposal outreach programs Belleville, Ill. (February 14, 2012) - Illinois American Water announced today that the company has been selected by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to receive the 2011 Communications Achievement Award for the company's outreach regarding proper pharmaceutical disposal. The award recognizes AWWA member organizations for fostering and supporting the development of public outreach programs and integrating public affairs as a core element of utility planning and management. According to Deirdre Mueller, Public Affairs Manager for AWWA, "Many accomplished individuals and organizations were considered and the selection process was rigorous. AWWA's Public Affairs Council selection committee was very impressed by the work Illinois American Water completed in 2011." Founded in 1881, AWWA is an international nonprofit educational association dedicated to safe water and the authoritative resource for knowledge, information, and advocacy for improving the quality and supply of water in North America and beyond. Illinois American Water created and launched a public awareness campaign to educate the public about proper pharmaceutical disposal. Goals of the program include increasing awareness and reducing pharmaceuticals in water through the creation of community pharmaceutical disposal programs. Through these community programs supported by Illinois American Water, residents are encouraged to drop off their unwanted medications so they can be incinerated, which is the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal. Flushing medications down the toilet or the drain as well as throwing them in the trash are discouraged. "Permanent pharmaceutical disposal programs provide long-term protection of our water sources by ensuring proper disposal of unwanted medications," said Karla Olson Teasley, Illinois American Water President. Through partnership and collaboration with local pharmacies, police departments and government officials, Illinois American Water has implemented and supported 25 pharmaceutical disposal programs across the state including sites in Alton, Bartonville, Belleville, Caseyville, Champaign, Chicago (two sites), Chillicothe, Collinsville, Fairmont, Maryville, Mt. Vernon, O'Fallon, Orland Hills, Pekin, Peoria (three sites), Peoria Heights, Pontiac, South Beloit, Sterling, Streator, Urbana and Waterloo. The pharmaceutical disposal programs were created through a model program developed by Pontiac Township High School students and their teacher Paul Ritter. The program, Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), is recognized by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois EPA and the Department of Natural Resources as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs. Through Illinois American Water's and P2D2's efforts, thousands of pounds of unwanted medications have been properly disposed. AWWA's Communications Achievement Award will be presented to Illinois American Water during AWWA's national conference on Monday, June 11, 2012 in Dallas, TX. Past recipients include San Francisco (Calif.) Public Utility Commission Water Quality Div., Metro Vancouver (B.C.), City of San Diego (Calif.) Public Utilities Department and Denver (Colo.) Water. - MORE - PRESS RELEASE Illinois American Water to Receive American Water Works Association's 2011 Communication Achievement Award About Illinois American Water Illinois American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 1.2 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville. Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately 15 million people in more than 30 states, as well as parts of Canada. More information can be found by visiting ### PRESS RELEASE