The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC School of Dentistry and UNC Hospital Police are partnering up to host Medication Take Back Day on Tuesday to combat drug abuse.
Pharm.D. and third-year Ph.D. student Maurice Horton worked with Generation Rx, a group focused on promoting safe and proper methods of prescription drug use, to spearhead the event. Horton said the accumulation of expired or unused drugs at home threaten the safety and well-being of pets, children, the elderly and the environment through flushing of the drugs.
“This is just an opportunity for patients and citizens of Chapel Hill to bring their medication back, clean out their medicine cabinet and create a safer home for themselves,” Horton said.
Inspired by the Drug Enforcement Administration's two national Take Back Days held in October and April, Horton sought to bring the event to Chapel Hill in the hopes of expanding the DEA’s efforts, and the work that student organizations like Generation Rx had already begun.
“This is a place where pharmacists can engage with community and expand their scope of practice,” Horton said. “We’re not just pushing out the pills, we’re actually caring about what goes on after they are put in the home and if they’re not taken.”
Kimberly Sanders, Pharm.D. and faculty adviser for the event, said the event was originally set up within the Dental School as a way for faculty, students and patients of the dental clinics to drop off unused or expired medication. The event was eventually extended to include the general public as a way of promoting the DEA’s national Take Back Day in October.
“Our intent and purpose is to have an opportunity and a location for people to bring in these items and hopefully dispose of them appropriately,” said Sanders.
Individuals participating in Take Back Day are encouraged to return any and all sorts of substances. UNC’s Generation Rx is accepting a range of substances, including prescription medication, inhalers and narcotics.
“It is not limited at all," Sanders said. "At our first event, we had people bringing in expired ointments or liquids, cough syrups, things that they didn’t necessarily think to get rid of, and had just been collecting dust in their medicine cabinet."
Patient information is removed and containers are properly discarded before the substances are sent to the State Bureau of Investigation for incineration. If individuals would like to remove any personal labels before dropping off medications, they are encouraged to do so.
“At the point of drop-off, no names are collected, no address information," Sanders said. "It really is just a handing off of those medications and supplies."
The students and faculty present will be also providing information on methods of proper medication storage and at-home disposal methods through fliers and personal education.
Sanders said they are able to collect narcotics, such as opioids, because law enforcement will be in attendance on Tuesday. Sanders said she hopes the collection will diminish the presence of such drugs on the streets and the likelihood of them landing in the wrong hands. Additionally, Sanders discussed the significance of this opportunity with regards to opioid users’ susceptibility to overdose, respiratory depression and death.
“I think it’s good for students to see that these drugs are serious and that a lot of these drugs can be very harmful to you,” said Sergeant Sherlita Chapel, sergeant of crime prevention on campus who will be in attendance on Tuesday.
The Medication Take Back Day will occur on Tuesday from 12-3 p.m. in the UNC School of Dentistry’s Tarrson Hall lobby.
Students unable to attend the Medication Take Back Day on Tuesday will still have the year-long opportunity of properly discarding unused or expired medication at take-back boxes located in the UNC Student Stores, Chapel Hill Police Department lobby and UNC Hospitals.
“I’m just really encouraged by the amount of enthusiasm and support – enthusiasm by our students here in the Pharmacy School to want to spearhead this event, not only here in the school area, but also out in the community,” Sanders said. “And then also the support that we’ve gotten from both, here at the School of Pharmacy and the School of Dentistry to run this type of event in collaboration with each other.”
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