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Ohio State Medication Disposal Day aims to eliminate leftover prescriptions, increase awareness on drug misuse

Ohio State on Thursday had its second medication disposal event this year, held by Student Health Services in collaboration with University Police and Generation RX, Ohio State’s prescription-education program. The goal of “Medication Disposal Day” is to eliminate leftover prescription pills from medicine cabinets in Columbus and to increase awareness surrounding drug misuse.

Ohio State’s health services have collected approximately 255 pounds of unused medication from students, faculty and staff in the past two years of holding the disposal days.

“We hope to surpass 83.5 pounds in order to exceed last year’s total and increase the amount of drugs diverted from groundwater and landfills and keep controlled drugs off the streets to prevent abuse and misuse,” Phillip Anderson, SHS pharmacy manager, said before disposal day began.

The event, which ran from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m at the John W. Wilce Student Health Center, featured supervision from SHS pharmacy staff, volunteers from the College of Pharmacy and a University Police officer tasked with handling any disposed pills.

The pharmacy at SHS decided to host its first-ever disposal day in 2011, which grew into a bi-annual event starting last year when it became evident Ohio was at the epicenter of the opioid crisis.

According to data from the Ohio Department of Health, opioid prescription overdoses have declined since 2011, but fentanyl drug overdoses have steadily risen, reaching pandemic levels.

In 2012, 75 fentanyl-related deaths were reported. In 2015, that number rose to 1,155. SHS has dedicated disposal days to combat these increases.

“Prevention of drug overdoses and deaths is our main goal,” Anderson said. “Most teenagers and others who misuse prescription drugs obtain them from a friend or family member.  It is very important to safely store medications, keeping them locked up and out of the reach of children.”

Protecting the environment and community water is an additional focus of the disposal because groundwater can be threatened by leakage of improperly disposed medication, such as when medicine is flushed down the toilet.

The disposal also accepts all medication, not just those that are prescribed.

“One [dropoff customer] asked if we could dispose of inhalers or over-the-counter items,” said volunteer Lauren McKinley, a second-year medical student in pharmacy. “I then told him that we can take anything and if you’re unsure, we will dispose of it anyway.”

The next Medication Disposal Day will take place in April 2018.

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