While the U.S. makes up around 5% of the world’s population, we consume approximately 75% of the world’s prescription drugs—well over 4 billion prescriptions per year. Approximately one third of those are never used, creating an array of public health challenges. These challenges include land and water pollution; unintentional inappropriate use and unintentional human, pet, and wildlife poisonings; and intentional drug abuse and diversion. Misuse of prescription drugs now exceeds that of all illegal drugs combined. Reducing the number of medications prescribed is of primary importance, as well as collecting unnecessary medications from households and disposing of them through environmentally friendly methods. There are a variety of medication collection methods, including public take-back events, permanent drop boxes at pharmacies, collection by police departments, as well as prepaid mailers available from some pharmacies and the Internet. When bulk medication is collected at take-back events or by police departments, it is generally quantified as “pounds collected,” with no determination of specific medications collected, quantities of prescribed medications left unused, or length of household storage beyond the expiration date. Pharmacy students are uniquely positioned to explore these unknowns and develop solutions with their high level of drug expertise. This research study combined with community service events involved the collaboration of pharmacy students with environmentalists, community volunteers, and law enforcement officers to collect and analyze unwanted medications, as well as explore factors pertinent to this public hazard.
Packard, Anne E.; Noureldin, Maryam; Colavecchia, A. Carmine; Darbishire, Patricia L.; and Colavecchia, Jennifer
"Unused Medication Collection: An Emerging Service-Learning Experience for Pharmacy Students,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 6
, Article 16.
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol6/iss1/16