ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Safe Medical Disposal box installed on-campus


The disposal box is located in the WUPD lobby.

The Wilkes University Police Department (WUPD) partnered with the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy in joining the Safe Medication Disposal Program sponsored and funded through Rite Aid Pharmacy. Participation in the program was proposed by Harrison Ferro, P3 Pharmacy student and APhA-ASP Generation Rx chair. The collection and disposal of medications turned over will be overseen by WUPD.

A Safe Medical Disposal box was installed in the lobby of WUPD headquarters and may be accessed at any time. Anyone can dispose of prescription and over-the-counter solid medications, prescription and OTC tablets and capsules, and pet medicines. This allows students on-campus a place to dispose of unused or expired medications, as previously the closest disposal box was at the courthouse.

You just walk through the front doors and it’s right there on your right,” said Ferro. “It’s hard to miss.”

However, items such as thermometers, hydrogen peroxide, intravenous solutions, iodine-containing medications, compressed cylinders or aerosols (i.e. asthma inhalers), and alcohol and illicit drugs (i.e. marijuana, heroin, LSD, etc) are not marked for disposal.

Additionally, injectables, syringes and needles (i.e. EpiPens) are also not allowed to be disposed and require contacting a health care professional or hospital.

All pharmaceutical drugs must be placed in a sealed container such as the original bottle or a zip-lock bag. Personal information for prescriptions must be removed or marked out with a permanent marker prior to disposal.

Reducing drug accessibility is a key component in our efforts to address serious issues related to the health and well-being of our campus community,” said WUPD Chief Christopher Jagoe. “National studies show young people are now more likely to abuse a prescription drug than an illegal street drug. Getting unused or expired medications out of your residence is a great first step in protecting yourself and family.”

The box installation initiated from Ferro discussing with WUPD having AED first-aid kits stocked with naloxone. Naloxone is the antidote for a breathing emergency (such as an overdose) and all WUPD officers carry it. Ferro said getting naloxone in AED first-aid kits is his next project.

I’m not trying to say Wilkes has an issue. We’re just trying to provide a safe and effective way to save a life in the case of if it occurs. It’s not just for students but also for other people around or near campus. So like if there’s an event, there’s something there just in case as a safety precaution,” said Ferro.

He said that Generation Rx participates in Drug Take Back Day and they used to be held at the courthouse. Last year was the first time it was at Wilkes. He said with a disposal box now on-campus, they can host more take-back events and have WUPD handle medications.

Although synthetic opioids are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, they are also manufactured illegally. According to the CDC, deaths from synthetic opioids significantly increased in 23 states and the District of Columbia from 2016 to 2017. More than 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone) occurred in the United States, which is more deaths than from any other type of opioid.

Fentanyl, for example, is a synthetic opioid the CDC said is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is primarily prescribed to manage severe pain such as with cancer and end-of-life palliative care. Non-pharmaceutical (or illicit) fentanyl is often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine or pressed into counterfeit pills.

It’s important to dispose of medications that are unused, misused or expired. Medication misuse is any medication you are not prescribed., so whether you’re self-medicated or get it from a friend or family member. That’s why we have health care professionals and doctors. That way we can make sure you have a diagnosis and from there we can make sure if medication is safe. Not doing the proper steps can lead to harm, and we want to prevent medication misuse and promote safe disposal methods,” said Ferro.