Drive-thru medication cleanout helps prevent water pollution, monitor drug abuse in Searcy

Thu, 04/25/2013 - 6:33pm -- csong1

The College of Pharmacy and White County Sheriff’s Department will host a drive-thru medication cleanout event April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Henry and Grace Farrar Center for Health Sciences. The college will collect unwanted prescription medications and samples, non-prescription medications, vitamins and supplements, medications for pets and nebulizer solutions. 

According to Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Dr. Jeanie Smith, the medication cleanout is an event for people in the community to bring their unused or expired medications for the college to properly dispose of them. 

“This is our second event,” Smith said. “We had 65 pounds of medications dropped off, that is 29,000 pills from 43 cars, at the first event in the fall of last year. We also found out that Searcy Police Department was doing a similar project and that they want us to do the background detail work at their event so we’re going to get to have two events on the same day. So we’re pretty excited.”

Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Dr. Kaci Bohn said people will enter from Jimmy Carr Drive and drive through two lanes of traffic where they can drive up and event volunteers will come to their cars to collect the medicines and bring them inside the building. 

The patient’s information is completely removed from the prescription labels to protect the privacy of the patient. Bohn said all of the event volunteers are licensed pharmacists and licensed pharmacy interns, who are essentially the same people that gave people the medications.

“We want to be very clear that we want the medications in their original prescription bottles, and not just dumped into the Ziploc bags and dropped off,” Smith said. “We want the whole unit of the bottle, the medicine and everything to see if we can determine whether there’s a growing prescription drug abuse problem (in Searcy).”

Bohn said the benefits of this event include keeping all medications out of the landfill and the water supply, protecting homes from misuse, keeping children safe and helping spread the word about the problem of prescription abuse. 

The Searcy Water Department purchased the incinerator for the White County’s Sheriff Department, which incinerates all of the things that are donated according to Bohn.

 “Most people don’t think about Tylenol and aspirin being harmful,” Bohn said. “If every person in Searcy, however, throws four or five Tylenol into the water supply, then we can have a serious issue.”

According to Bohn, the event has been a group effort by multiple people who have recognized there is a problem and a need because the event involves two law enforcement entities and the Searcy Water Department. 

“Any medication or unwanted medications that are collected are destroyed,” said deputy Bill Higginbotham, public information officer of the sheriff’s department. “What we do is as the medications are gathered they’re given to me, and I take them to the department. What we will do here (at the department) is we weigh them, and there’s a situation where the drug enforcement agency gives us a date to transport the medications to Newport where they’re destroyed.”