Published November 3, 2017
On October 28, over 65 University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences students participated in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which offers a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.
Students were stationed at 13 locations around Western New York, including hospitals, town halls, schools and fire departments. Numerous faculty members and alumni were on hand to assist as well. In total, almost 9,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected and disposed of.
“This year was a record for patients dropping off unused, outdated and damaged medications and syringes and needles,” says Karl Fiebelkorn, Senior Associate Dean for Student, Professional, and Community Affairs, and co-coordinator of the Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital take-back site with Barry Martin, ’81, Pharmacy Manager for Kaleida Health. “We need to keep our community safe from harmful use of these potent medications.”
Working in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration and local police departments, the 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 environmental and health hazards.
The local drug take-back effort was pioneered several years ago by Fiebelkorn, Dr. Chris Jadoch, ’87, former pharmacy director at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston, NY, and current Assistant Dean at the D’Youville College School of Pharmacy, and Cheryll Moore, Medical Care Administrator for the Erie County Board of Health, who together formed the Western New York Drug Disposal Committee. They enlisted the help of Frank Scarpinato, Environmental Compliance Specialist at the Erie County Department of Health, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, West Herr Automotive Group and others to discuss and implement a take-back program.
The first WNY prescription drug take-back event took place in 2009 in conjunction with the Getzville Fire Department and the Amherst Police Department, and expanded to 3-4 events a year in various locations. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration observed the local efforts and used it as a framework for the current National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which began in 2010.
Those who missed the event can search for year-round drug disposal locations on the DEA website.