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October 18, 2013

October 18, 2013

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Contact: Natalie Lester
Moxley Carmichael

[title] Drug take-back event set for Oct. 26

South College School of Pharmacy students are learning to fill prescription medications, yet they are reversing the process and taking them back on Saturday, Oct. 26.

“At the retail pharmacy setting, we field questions from patients about their medications and what to do if they have any they no longer need every day,” said Kate Schaefer, chair of the student organization Generation Rx and second-year South College School of Pharmacy student.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., South College School of Pharmacy students will collect unused over-the-counter and prescription drugs at Long’s Drug Store at 4604 Old Kingston Pike.

Dr. Michael O’Neil, a South College School of Pharmacy professor and recognized expert on the topic of prescription drug abuse, has been involved in approximately 20 take-back events and emphasized the importance of proper disposal of unused medications.

“We know the number one source for drugs that are abused on the street is from family members and friends,” O’Neil said. “This is a major source for the path of addiction. With events like ours, you can help your friends and family by eliminating the temptation of your old drugs.”

Attendees can also seek advice from the student pharmacists about medications, symptoms and medication safety.

In the past, communities have been encouraged to flush old medications down the toilet. However, that is no longer advised because of public safety issues and significant harm to the environment.

The EPA considers the presence of pharmaceuticals in the environment a significant emerging threat because of the impact on fish and humans. A watershed 2006 study found that some drinking waters across the United States had a mix of 13 common medications that inhibit cell growth in human embryonic cells.

In addition to environmental hazards, there are also law enforcement concerns because unused medications can be stolen and sold.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has reported that abuse of prescription drugs is on the rise in this state and crosses all age groups. Tennessee is also ranked among the highest in the country for prescription drug-related cases in the courtroom.

“Federal and state law don’t allow for drugs to move in any direction other than to the patient and to the trash,” O’Neil said. “If you stop taking a medication or don’t finish a prescription, you can’t take it back to the pharmacy and once it starts sitting in your medicine cabinet, it becomes accessible to family and friends.”

Thus, the student pharmacists are partnering with the Knoxville Police Department so that the drugs can be destroyed at an alternate location and the bottles and packaging recycled.

This is the first time South College School of Pharmacy has organized such an event, and Schaefer believes it allows the student pharmacits to connect with the community in a way they wouldn’t otherwise.

“It’s a great opportunity for us as student-pharmacists to serve a community need and become a resource for medication questions in the future,” Schaefer said.

The School of Pharmacy is the first doctorate degree program at South College. South College offers an accelerated, three-year curriculum unique to pharmacy education in Tennessee. The PharmD degree enables graduates to apply for licensure as a pharmacist.

South College is a private institution accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to offer programs at the doctorate, masters, baccalaureate, and associate levels. For information, visit