A $110,000 pilot program to safely dispose of unwanted pharmaceutical drugs is being hailed as a success as its initial funding dries up. So far, the 23 collection locations have taken and disposed of more than 10,000 pounds of medicine.

Now, San Francisco has its eyes on neighboring Alameda, where the County and drug companies are locked in a legal battle over the nation’s first mandatory drug-take back program. In that program, drug companies are required to fund operations for residents to turn in any medicines that are unwanted.

In San Francisco, even starting the pilot program took a great deal of work, as interest groups pushed back against a wider test program. However, environmental and health concerns raised by activists won out, and the one-time funding for the pilot program was approved.

According to proponents of the take back programs, pharmaceuticals that are not properly disposed of – in this case at an incinerator in Texas – can leak into the environment because wastewater treatment facilities are unable to remove the drugs. If the drugs remain in the home, it can contribute to prescription drug abuse, which has been more prevalent in recent years than heroine or cocaine overdoses.

Read the full article at the San Francisco Examiner.