By Brandon Addeo | The Duquesne Duke
Students and faculty brought their expired and unused prescription drugs to Duquesne Sept. 26 for safe disposal as a part of National Drug Take Back Day.
Take Back Day is an effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration to collect unused prescription drugs so that they may be properly disposed of.
The event at Duquesne, sponsored by members of HEART, was held in Bayer Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.
Locals brought in enough prescription drugs to fill a substantial amount of three boxes, according to Vincent Giannetti, HEART faculty advisor and pharmacy professor.
Take Back Day is a nationwide event, and about a dozen other sites in Pittsburgh held collections. Last fall’s Take Back Day collected more than 600,000 pounds of drugs from 5,683 locations across the United States, and UPMC collected more than 900 pounds at the past spring’s Take Back Day, according to DEA statistics.
Prescription drug abuse is a common issue across the United States, as more than 6 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to DEA statistics.
“It’s a problem particularly with teenagers,” Giannetti said. “[Prescription drugs] are highly addictive … teenagers think that it’s safe.”
HEART president Jessica Glas said people normally dispose of their unused prescription drugs by flushing them down the toilet, but Take Back Day provides a safer alternative.
“A lot of people think that flushing [drugs] down the toilet or throwing them in the garbage is acceptable … it’s really not,” Glas said. “Flushing them can pollute the environment, and if you leave them in the garbage drug abusers can find them and animals can eat them.”
All drugs collected at the event are incinerated, Giannetti said. HEART member Tim Porter said incineration is the safest form of prescription drug disposal.
“Many pharmacies don’t accept medications back because they have to fill out forms that require them to dispose of them properly,” Porter said. “[Take Back Day] is a great way to promote safety in medications, we don’t want to have medications being improperly disposed of because that can cause problems.”
HEART is an organization in the Mylan School of Pharmacy that spreads awareness of chemical dependency and drug and alcohol abuse.
Drug Take Back Day occurs twice yearly. The next event will be hosted by HEART in the spring.
“The School of Pharmacy is happy to do this as a service to the community,” Giannetti said. “As long as the DEA continues to do [the event] we’re happy to do it too.”