LECOM Erie pharmacy students and faculty members joined the Sea Grant Pennsylvania staff to collect unwanted medications for proper disposal. Concern has been growing over the amount of prescription medication and chemicals from personal care products that are reaching the nation's drinking water.
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For four hours, a steady stream of Erie residents arrived at the Bayfront Cruise Terminal to dispose of hundreds of bottles of old medications. After registering every pill and bottles of liquids, the volunteers turned over more than 600 pounds of old medications and personal care products to Environmental Coordination Services and Recycling of Cochranton, Pennsylvania. That company incinerated the unwanted medical products.
Pharmacy students Danielle DeBias, Allison Markievich, Lyndsay Wormuth, Breanne Keating, Joe Marucci, Sara Lucas, Carly Sanfrey, Alyssa Falkowski, Deborah Hofmeyer assisted in the collection.
Assistant Professors of Pharmacy Practice Elliott Cook, Pharm. D. LECOM 2006, and Sana Sukkari, B.Sc. Pharm., M. Phil., R.Ph. organized the project along with the Sea Grant Staff. Larry Sasich, Pharm. D., Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice helped during the collection.
Dr. Cook and Mrs. Sukari explain why proper disposal of medications is important in this article for the Erie Times News Newspapers in Education section:
More Americans are taking more medications than ever, according to IMS Health and the Nielsen Co. Over the past five years, the number of U.S. prescriptions rose to a record 3.7 billion, a 12 percent increase. Nonprescription drug purchases held steady around 3.3 billion.
Recent Associated Press articles reported small amounts of medications, including antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones, have been found in drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. Although medications may be practically undetectable in our drinking water, small amounts over decades may produce harmful effects. Researchers are still unaware of the long-term complications.
While sewage and waste treatment plants need to address this issue, we as the public can do our part to keep medications out of our water by not flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash.
Proper disposal can decrease the level of these substances found in our drinking water; prevent accidental poisonings in children, the elderly and pets; and eliminate the possibility of identity theft and drug abuse.
Ask your retail pharmacy if it has a take-back program for proper disposal. Do your part to protect Lake Erie and our drinking water by registering for the event so your unused or expired medications can be disposed of properly.
There is also legislation pending in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Rep. John Hornaman, D-3rd Dist., and Rep. Pat Harkins, D-1st Dist., have co-sponsored House Bill 2073 -- the Pharmaceutical Drug Disposal Act. It would "require retailers of pharmaceutical drugs to have a system in place for the acceptance and collection of pharmaceutical drugs for proper disposal." Go to: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/ Select: find legislation by bill in the search and enter HB2073.