McALLEN -- In anticipation of Earth Day 2011 (April 22), Saenz Medical Pharmacy is now offering a new drug take back program to help its patients safely dispose of medicine that may be dangerous to others and to the environment.

"As members of the community, pharmacists are in a prime position to ensure the safe and proper handling of medications, from dispensing to disposal," said Jesus Saenz. "Unused or expired medications pose risks to our families, communities, and the environment. We welcome all in the community to come and talk to our pharmacists about their prescriptions and how to store, use and dispose of them properly."

Saenz is a member of the National Community Pharmacists Association which in last year launched, Dispose My Meds, a program to help its members create consumer drug disposal programs for medicines that may be dangerous to others and to the environment.

Patients of any pharmacy are invited to safely dispose of unused and expired medications at Saenz Medical Pharmacy, free of charge by bringing in the drugs in their original stock containers. The pharmacy will work to dispose of the drugs using the Sharps TakeAwayTM Environmental Return System, a safe, easy method to dispose of unused patient medications in an environmentally friendly way.

The Office of National Drug Control has found that prescription drugs are the drug of choice among 12- and 13-year olds, while a third of all new abusers of prescription drugs were between the ages of 12 and 17. Though it may be argued that the presence of drugs in drinking water is negligible, more and more consumers are disposing of unused medicines by flushing them down the drain, adding pharmaceutical pollution to our waters. In addition, medicines thrown in the trash can end up in landfills if not first picked up by children, pets, sanitation employees, or anyone who rummages through trash.

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPAŽ) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. www.disposemymeds.org

Saenz Medical Pharmacy is the Rio Grande Valley's largest independent pharmacy with seven locations in McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, and Penitas Texas. For more information about the company or the drug disposal program, log on to the Saenz Medical Pharmacy website www.saenzpharmacy.com.