One of the biggest drug problems facing Americans is the abuse of prescription drugs. The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy students will join other entities across the nation in educating citizens about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 26.
The PCSP student chapter of the American Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration will collect potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the School of Pharmacy located at 307 N. Broad St. The service is free and anonymous.
“At PC, we always try to serve our community as best we can,” said Patrick O’Day, a pharmacy student and organizer of the initiative. “Providing a drug take back day allows us to gather prescription drugs and dispose of them properly, while teaching residents about safe usage and how they can safely dispose their medications,” O’Day said.
“As we push forward with this initiative, both the public and healthcare provider level of support and participation is growing each year,” said O’Day. In October of 2013, nearly 6,000 locations participated in the sixth Drug Take-Back Day. Participating Americans turned in 647,211 pounds or 324 tons, of unneeded medications.
The program addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
Drug take-back programs also lessen the practice of flushing medications or placing them in the trash. While studies have not revealed serious environmental effects as the result of flushing, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, DEA and the Food & Drug Administration recommend disposing drugs with an approved Take-Back Day participant, such as the PC School of Pharmacy.
Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. The DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act.
Until new regulations are in place, Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events twice per year, said O’Day.
- Keep medicines in a locked cabinet in the bedroom or linen closet. They should be labeled and in their original containers. If you use medication organizers, keep those secured too.
- Take an inventory of your medications so you know what you have and dispose of drugs you no longer need. Pain medications should be either turned in to a take-back program or placed in medication-return mailers available at pharmacies. Controlled substances should be turned into a take-back program.
- Having unused and expired medicine in your home increases the risk of accidental poisoning.
- Homes where children or the elderly live are especially vulnerable to this danger.
- People may mistake one type of medicine for another type. Children may mistake medicine for candy.
- Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.
- If you throw prescription medicines in the garbage, mix them with kitty litter or coffee grounds and put them in the garbage on the day of trash pickup.
- Never tell children their medicine is like candy, and warn them not to share medicine.
- Changes in children’s behavior or grades can be a sign of drug abuse. If you discover that your children have loose medication, take it to the pharmacy for identification or look it up on a drug-identification website.
- Unused or expired medicine should be disposed of properly when it is no longer needed for the illness for which it was prescribed.
- Medicines may lose their effectiveness after the expiration date.
- Improper use of prescription drugs can be as dangerous as illegal drug use.
- Proper disposal helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.
- Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
—Source: FDA.gov, DEA.gov