Nov. 12, 2009

Prescription drug drop-off to be held at Iowa State Nov. 18

by Tim Greene, News Service

In an effort to decrease prescription drug abuse and water pollution, local law enforcement and healthcare agencies will hold another prescription drug drop-off on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the driveway on the west side of Stephens Auditorium, will provide a convenient, safe and confidential way for community members to dispose of old, unused or unwanted medications.

A similar drop-off Aug. 1 at Ames City Hall netted 331 pounds of unused or expired pills, liquids and creams that were subsequently incinerated.

"Youth in particular seem to believe that prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs because they were prescribed by a doctor. They don't take in the fact that they were prescribed for a certain person during a certain time period," said Erin Kennedy, Youth and Shelter Services' drug-free coordinator and an organizer of the event.

Often, children and teens don't have to look farther than the medicine cabinet to find prescription drugs. Kennedy says decreasing availability is an important step toward lowering drug abuse rates and preventing accidental overdose.

Pre-holiday cleaning

"With Thanksgiving around the corner, there may be a lot of people in your house who aren't there normally. I advise people to take a few minutes to clean out their medicine cabinets and help remove this threat," Kennedy said. "This is a way to get rid of unwanted medicine before it has a chance to harm someone else," added ISU police sergeant Elliott Florer, another event organizer.

Improper disposal of prescription drugs, such as flushing them down the toilet, also can contribute to pollution of rivers, lakes, streams and the groundwater supply. People who throw away medicines in the trash -- pill bottle and all -- run the risk of their drugs and personal information falling into the wrong hands.

"It's better to let us take care of it," Florer said.

The pharmaceutical drop-off program will accept pills, creams, gels, liquids and even pet medications, but cannot accept shards, thermometers or needles for safety reasons.

In addition to the ISU police and Youth Shelter and Services, event sponsors are Story County, Ames Police Department, Mary Greeley Medical Center and McFarland Clinic.