Pharmacy students help with the collection of expired medication

Wilkes University teamed up with the Luzerne County Medical Society and the Luzerne County District Attorney and Sheriff offices for National Perscription Drug Take Back Day.

The day, which was created by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), encourages the disposal of expired medication in a safe way. 

The event took place on Oct. 27 at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

Community members were able to drive into the courthouse parking lot through River Street and exit via Pierce Street. In the parking lot, a drive-up drug take-back box.

According to the U.S. DEA, expired medicines in homes are the leading cause of accidental poisoning. Flushed or trashed medicine also end up polluting waters.

To prepare items for disposal, community members were asked to do a number of things. All drugs were required to be placed in a sealed container and personal information removed or marked out.

Perscription and over-the-counter solid medications, tablets and capsules, and pet mediciation were able to be disposed. Items such as intravenous solutions, injectables, hydrogen peroxide, compressed cylinders, iodine-containing medications, thermometers, and alcohol and illicit drugs were not allowed to be dropped off.

Wilkes pharmacy students assisted with the taking back of the medication. Although the students themselves did not physically take them, they helped district attorney collect the medication at the Take Back site.

Harrison Ferro, a senior pharmacy major, discussed the importance of the event.

“A common way that people dispose of [medications] is by flushing it down the toilet,” he explained. “You don’t want to do that. You want to take it to a Take Back site, which is listed on the DEA’s website.”

The event also focused on the cutting back of substance misuse.

“Roughly six million Americans misuse a perscription medication, not an over-the counter, every month, and this is one way to cut back on that,” said Ferro. “They are not prone to substance misuse if they do not have access to the medication.”

Ferro also explained ways of disposing medications at home.

“If you are not able to come to an event like this, you can use coffee grounds or cat litter, or even dirt, anything that would deter someone from stealing someone else’s medications.”

The students also recieved feedback from community members on the event, according to Ferro,

“We got feedback on why they are disposing of them today, if this is a good process of doing it,” he said.

Landon Bornder, a junior pharmacy major, spoke highly of the event.

“The experience was pretty great,” he said. “Just knowing that we can get out there and help the community and try to stop misuse, it’s a great feeling.”

To advertise the event, both Ferro and Bordner appeared on Oct. 26’s PA Live, a sit-down talk show featuring events from the area.