Drug Take Back program safely collects expired medications

Emily Seiser December 8, 2016 0

Monday, Dec. 12 Elizabethtown College will be having a Prescription Take Back.

Students and faculty can drop off their expired or unneeded prescriptions at the table outside of the Jays Nest from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They will accept any form of prescription other than liquid and gel cap medications.

Sophomore psychology major Erin Driscoll is partnering with Communities that Care and Club Ophelia to bring this event together. Driscoll found out about the idea through Gail Viscome, the executive director of Communities that Care and thought this would be a great program to reinstate on campus.

Two years ago, a Prescription Take Back was organized at the College through Communities that Care, ENACTUS and Campus Security. The goal of the program is to reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse by collecting expired and no longer used medications that if discarded of improperly could result in hard to an individual.

According to a press release by President Obama from 2015, prescription drug abuse is the most rapidly growing drug issue in the United States. Over 40,000 people died from various forms of drug use in 2013, which is the equivalent of two large commercial planes crashing every week.

There are about 200 million prescriptions written each year, with people in the United States using between 75 and 80 percent of the pain medicine prescribed in the world. To put that in perspective, the United States only comprises about five percent of the world’s population. Only about 17 percent of people get their prescriptions from an authorized doctor, while the rest obtain them from their family and friends.

In 2010, Pennsylvania’s overdose rates were above the national average. The state is also one of the four states where more people die from overdoses than car accidents.

Sophomore Kelsea Davis was unaware how prevalent this issue is before hearing these statistics and feels that if this was more widely publicized, “there would be a bigger movement.”

She says that drug abuse is scary, a “silent killer,” because someone could take a pill to lower blood pressure and not know they already have low blood pressure.

This could then lead to fatal effects. Davis also thinks that having a Prescription Take Back at Etown is awesome and that it is “good to get medications that are no longer being used into safe hands.”

On top of the risk of drug abuse, prescriptions that are expired are extremely risky. Some medicines decrease in strength after they reach their expiration date. This could lead to an increase in antibiotic resistance and thus a susceptibility to dangerous reactions that might not be listed amongst the potential side effects commonly associated with the medication.

According to a report by the FDA, medicines that have expired can have a change in their chemical composition or even grow bacteria—especially if stored improperly.

If you happen to miss this Prescription Take Back event, or if you find yourself in need of disposing medication at a later date, most pharmacies accept expired medications and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website has a list of locations were they are accepted.

Sophomore Julie Weeks thinks the program is a very good idea and that “people should really take advantage of the opportunity here at Etown to hand in their old prescriptions, especially since everyone has them.”

Even though Etown is hosting the Prescription Take Back event during finals week, the DEA hosts a Prescription Take Back Day every year. At the past 11 events, they have collected over 6.3 million pounds of medication.

For more information regarding dropping your expired or unwanted medication off at the Prescription Drug Take Back, contact Driscoll at driscolle@etown.edu.


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