The Texas Panhandle Poison Center (TPPC) conducted its 50th Medication Cleanout collection April 22 at the TTUHSC campus in Amarillo. The Amarillo Police Department provided support for the event and Sonic Drive-In donated free drink coupons.
During the four-hour collection period, TPPC Managing Director Jeanie Jaramillo-Stametz, Pharm.D., said event volunteers saw 743 cars drop off more than 2,317 pounds of unwanted, expired or unused medications. The total included more than 2,065 of non-controlled medicines, 146 pounds of sharps and more than 106 pounds of controlled substances.
Jaramillo-Stametz said Medication Cleanout provides a safe option for disposing of unused medications, thereby reducing the potential for negative environmental impact, poisoning, abuse and the misuse of leftover medicines like antibiotics and pain medications. Since it started in 2009, Medication Cleanout has taken in more than 38,000 pounds of unused, unwanted and expired medications and sharps for proper disposal.
“This is also a good opportunity to dispose of medications leftover after the passing of a loved one,” Jaramillo-Stametz said. “People are told not to flush these drugs or throw them in the trash because this may result in contamination of the water supply, but they are not really provided with alternatives. Medication Cleanout gives them a safe and responsible alternative.”
Nationally, Jaramillo-Stametz said the use and abuse of heroin and other illicit drugs have been on the rise, and their use often begins with prescription medications, so keeping unsecured, unused medications in the home is a risk. Because addiction can occur very rapidly and can lead to devastating results for the user and his or her family, she said it’s just not worth the risk to hold on to unused medications.
“There are so many teenagers with ready access to prescription medications right in their homes or the homes of their relatives or friends,” she added. “Teens feel that prescription medications are safe to abuse, when nothing could be further from the truth.”