The Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy helped rid the community of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs on Saturday, October 26, 2013. Student chapters of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA-ASP) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), accepted medications for disposal at the School of Pharmacy. The service was 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.”
In April 2013, almost 6,000 locations across the country participated in the sixth Drug Take-Back Day. Participants turned in 742,497 pounds (371 tons) of unneeded medications. The level of support and participation from the public and healthcare providers continues to grow each year.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that are forgotten 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, the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events twice per year.