Purdue pharmacy to accept, dispose of old or unwanted meds

September 9, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —The Purdue University College of Pharmacy is expanding its initiative to collect and properly dispose of expired or unwanted medication through a partnership with the Yellow Jug Old Drugs program that will allow the Purdue University Retail Pharmacy to collect medications.

A kickoff event to mark the start of the new service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday (Sept. 10) at the Purdue Retail Pharmacy. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller will speak. Zoeller is creator and co-chair of the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force, which works to reduce prescription drug abuse in a variety of ways, including promoting safe medication disposal.

"Lifelong drug addiction commonly starts with prescription abuse," Zoeller said. "Nearly 80 percent of heroin users say they started out abusing prescription drugs, and prescription drugs are causing half of the drug overdose deaths in our state. Part of the reason for this is prescription drugs can be easy to get – often right in the home medicine cabinet. Purdue's participation in Yellow Jug Old Drugs will not only provide more disposal options to the community, it will instill in young people the risks of prescription drug abuse and hopefully save lives."

The Purdue Student National Pharmaceutical Association has, and will continue to hold, collection events on specific dates, but the Purdue Pharmacy will now be able to collect medications during all times of operation and provide an option for those who can't make it to a collection event, said Craig Svensson, Dean of the College of Pharmacy.

"We want to make it easy for people to properly dispose of old, unfinished or unwanted medications and get them out of their medicine cabinets," Svensson said. "We want to reduce the opportunity for prescription drug abuse, as well as provide a safe disposal service for all kinds of pharmaceuticals. If you flush or throw out medications in the trash, they can make their way into our water sources. This is harmful to the environment and harmful to our health, as well."

Medications must be safely disposed of in licensed facilities and the Yellow Jugs Old Drugs program is a service provided by Great Lakes Clean Water Organization to help pharmacies collect and dispose of unwanted drugs. A yellow jug is placed at the pharmacy and collected on a regular schedule to dispose of its contents in a safe and approved manner, said Patricia Darbishire, a clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice who leads the collection project.

Purdue's new medication take-back program is funded by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Unwanted medications build up in one's home for a variety of reasons," Darbishire said. "Sometimes a patient switches medications during treatment, but was given a full course of the original medication prescribed; other times a prescription is automatically refilled when it is no longer needed, and sometimes we just don't use all of the medication prescribed or purchased. When there isn't an easy way to dispose of it, it just sits in a house for years. At one collection event there was a bottle of pills from the 1970s."

The project includes research to understand and analyze disposal practices in order to create better educational campaigns, encourage proper disposal methods and enhance pharmacy schools' curriculum, Darbishire said. A voluntary survey will be available at the pharmacy to gather the data.

Both prescription and over-the-counter medications will be accepted, including pills, ointments, liquids and creams. More information about the Yellow Jug Old Drugs program is available at http://www.greatlakescleanwater.org/yellow-jug-old-drugs/

The Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force offers tips for safely disposing of prescription medications, a list of permanent drop-off sites and other resources to reduce Rx abuse at www.BitterPill.in.gov

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu 

Sources: Patricia Darbishire, 765-494-1380, darbishi@purdue.edu

Craig Svensson, 765-494-1368, svensson@purdue.edu  

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