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School of Pharmacy to take back unwanted drugs

The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy will attempt to rid the community of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs on Saturday, April 27th. Student chapters of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA-ASP) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will accept medications for disposal at the School of Pharmacy from 10 AM to 2 PM. 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 who has organized the initiative. “Providing a drug take back day allows us to gather potentially dangerous substances from our community and dispose of them properly, while teaching residents about safe usage and disposal of their medications.”

Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners.  In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.

This initiative 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. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

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.  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 every few months.