North Augusta’s Parks Pharmacy collected almost 100 pounds of medication Saturday during its first National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
“We collected medicine over 10 years old,” owner Steve McElmurray said.
Twice a year, the Drug Enforcement Administration puts on the event to educate people on how to properly dispose of unused medicine, pharmacist Laura Knotts said. Parks Pharmacy teamed up with North Augusta Public Safety.
“We want to get unused prescription drugs out of local homes,” she said. “When they stay in the house, there is a greater chance of misuse and abuse.”
Most patients who have abused prescription medicine have gotten it from a friend or family member, Knotts said.
She said people are often uneducated on how harmful the drugs can be if disposed of improperly.
“Most people think flushing the medicine is OK,” she said. “But that can lead to contamination of ground water.”
The best way to dispose of pills and liquids is to keep the medicine in its original container, but make sure to black out the personal information such as name and birth date.
Then modify the medicine to discourage others from using it. For pills, add water or another solvent. For liquid add salt. Then seal up the containers with packing or duct tape and throw them away, the pamphlet said.
During the DEA’s third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 29, Americans turned in more than 377,086 pounds of unwanted or expired medications at 5,327 sites, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.
Locally, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon also participated in Saturday’s take-back initiative.
As people dropped off bags of unwanted pills, the Parks Pharmacy staff made sure to stop and chat with each one.
Knotts said after people die, it is common to keep their medications for years because people are unsure of what to do with it.
“It’s a public safety issue,” Knotts said. “And it’s a community issue. What you find in people’s homes can be very dangerous. We want them to know how to take care of it.”