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Disposal Day helps students, faculty discard old medication properly

There’s a better place for old medicine than the cabinet above the sink.

Students and faculty were encouraged to drop off expired, unused or unwanted medications at Medication Disposal Day at the Wilce Student Health Center Pharmacy from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

“This is the first campus drug disposal day so we’re really excited about that. It’s a nice easy way for students, faculty or really anyone in the community to bring in their unused or old medications to make sure they’re disposed of in the proper way,” said Nancy Miller, a fourth-year in strategic communication.

Miller said it can be easy for prescription drug abusers to access medications when they are in medicine cabinets.

“One of the ways to help prevent that type of abuse is through proper disposal days and that’s what we’re doing here,” Miller said.

At Disposal Day, helpers look at the medication and properly dispose of it, Miller said.

“Certain medications can be flushed, but a lot of them can’t because it might harm the environment or certain chemicals can’t be mixed with certain things,” Miller said. “So, we look at the medication and dispose of it in the proper way.”

Andy Crowl, a Wilce Health Center employee, said at least 650 bottles of medicine were collected at Disposal Day.

The Ohio State Police Department was on hand to monitor the event. Deputy Chief Richard Morman of OSU Police said the pharmacy can only dispose of over-the-counter medications, not any controlled substances because it’s illegal for anyone else to possess them.

“When the medicine comes in, it’s inventoried by the pharmacy and then we take possession of that and dispose of it,” Morman said. “It’s stored in our property room and disposed of like a hazardous waste.”

Phillip Anderson, a pharmacy services manager at the Wilce Health Center, works with OSUPD at the event.

“For us to take drugs back, we have to have oversight. Even though I have a bunch of prescriptions back here, it’s all inventoried and controlled, so you can find out where it goes,” Anderson said. “But if it’s just taken off the street, who knows where it goes? The police have to oversee me and they take the controlled substances and destroy them.”

No needles or syringes were accepted because of the risk of injury, Anderson said. They requested everything be labeled so no time was wasted identifying them.

“When I was there, nothing came in that they weren’t able to identify,” Morman said. “Sometimes you’ll get stuff in a different container. The pharmacist would open it, pour it into a pill tray and look at it to make sure of the type it was.”

Morman warned that when disposing of medications, you should remove any personal identification from the bottle.

Anderson recommends following the steps listed on www.smartrxdisposal.net when disposing of medications at home. These include crushing the pills in a sealable plastic bag and adding water. Then add kitty litter, sawdust or coffee grounds. After the bag is tightly sealed, it can be thrown away.

“It was a lot busier than we thought,” Anderson said. “We have about 30 sheets filled with names of each bottle dropped off.”

Crowl said university employees comprised the majority of those in attendance.

“The main thing that we’ve been seeing is parents or grandparents that have passed away. All their medications are coming in from sons and daughters and grandkids,” Crowl said.

Miller said organizers hope to make this an annual event.

“I do think we will try to do this yearly as kind of a spring clean up for students,” Anderson said.

But, he did suggest finding a different location to have the event, like the Ohio Union.

The Generation Rx Initiative, which is part of the OSU College of Pharmacy, helped to organize this event. For more information about properly disposing medications they can be reached at (614) 292-2266.

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