Campus News

Pharmacy school collects 9,000 pounds of drugs during national take-back effort

By KARA SWEET

Published November 10, 2017

“We need to keep our community safe from harmful use of these potent medications.”
Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean for student, professional and community affairs
School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

More than 65 students from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences participated in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs while also educating the public about the potential for abuse and medications.

Students, faculty and alumni were stationed at 13 locations around Western New York, including hospitals, town halls, schools and fire departments. Nearly 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“This year was a record for patients dropping off unused, outdated and damaged medications, syringes and needles. We need to keep our community safe from harmful use of these potent medications,” says Karl Fiebelkorn, senior associate dean for student, professional and community affairs in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and co-coordinator of the Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital take-back site.

Working in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local police departments, the initiative — held on Oct. 28 — addressed 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; Chris Jadoch, assistant dean of 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.

The first prescription drug take-back event was held in 2009 in conjunction with the Getzville Fire Department and Amherst Police Department. Drug take-back events are now held several times each year in various locations.

In 2010, the DEA took notice of the local effort and used the Western New York program as a framework for the current National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Those who missed the event can search for year-round drug disposal locations on the DEA website.