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Rho Pi Phi Hosts Annual Drug Take Back Day

Jul 16, 2013

On April 27, 2013, National Drug Take Back Day Initiative was observed throughout the San Joaquin County. The Pacific Rho Pi Phi Pharmacy Fraternity has been participating in this initiative for many years promoting and supporting the event hosted by the National Drug Enforcement Agency. The primary purpose is to raise awareness of proper drug disposal and put that into practice by providing a safe drug and needle disposal site in various regions in the county.

Elisa Moberly of San Joaquin Public Works organizes the Drug Take Back Initiative twice yearly. She believes the initiative is not only vital in promotion of proper disposal but also informs that, "While the Drug Enforcement Agency events primarily protect the public from the unintended use of prescription and over-the-counter medications, they also protect the environment. Medicines flushed into the sewer system contaminate our water and mutate marine life. Throwing them in the trash has the potential of harming groundwater."

University of the Pacific's Public Safety Department was one of the many locations around the county that offered the service. Others included police departments and public schools. Twelve Pacific students, consisting of pre-pharmacy students and first and second year pharmacy brothers of Rho Pi Phi, participated at five different sites and served more than 400 participants. Recently, San Joaquin County Public Works also added the collection of medical "sharps" (e.g., hypodermic needles) into the initiative.

According to California state law, it is illegal to dispose of sharps in normal trash that end up in the landfill due to potential health risks. A total of 515 pounds was collected to be properly disposed. "It's ridiculous how I can have this many needles collected over the years that needed to be thrown away," commented a participant. The sharp object collection was possible through the Household Hazardous Waste program, which is a state-wide program through CalRecycle. This program allows residents to bring their sharps directly to the facility anytime throughout the year.

The brothers of Rho Pi Phi assisted in the collection of medication at the several sites and also educated and promoted the proper disposal of medications and sharps. As future health care professionals, we play an integral role in keeping the community aware of the proper method of medication and sharp disposal. Along with the initiative, work is being done, both at the local and federal level, to provide better options for medication disposal. With this in mind, Moberly believes funding allocated for expired/unused medication collection at local pharmacies would be ideal. Until this is possible, Drug Take Back Initiative planners hope to continue to serve the community and raise awareness of proper drug disposal over the years.

By: Jessica Park '15