Pharmacy Students Give Aid to Drug Take-Back Day

On October 22, USC School of Pharmacy students participated in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The event helps people prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired or unneeded medications. Sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the twice-yearly event provides thousands of locations across the country where pills and patches can be dropped off quickly and anonymously.

Pharmacists and USC pharmacy students were on hand at the event at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Boulevard to provide additional information and education about medication use and misuse.

“The message we provide relates to proper medication use and how to prevent misuse,” says Tam Phan, a third-year PharmD student and director of USC’s student-run Generation Rx, which is helping organize the Kaiser Permanente event under the direction of faculty advisor Naomi Florea. “We also educate the public about the health, social and legal consequences of prescription drug abuse, and provide resources for the community in how to properly dispose of medications.”

During the take-back held last April, Americans turned in 447 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 5,400 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Collectively, the event has taken in a total of 6.4 million pounds — about 3,200 tons — of pills since beginning in 2010.

Once medications are collected, a police officer or DEA representative seals them in boxes, weighs them to add to the national total, then takes them to be incinerated.

For more information about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events and locations, visit the DEA Diversion website.