April 14, 2011

VUSN event aids drug disposal efforts

Featured Image

VUSN student Stephenie Plowden holds a bag of medications collected at the Dickson County drug disposal event. (photo by Carrie Plummer)

VUSN event aids drug disposal efforts

More than 49,000 doses of prescription and over-the-counter medications were safely disposed of at a recent Dickson County drug disposal event thanks to the combined efforts of faculty and students from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Lipscomb College of Pharmacy, Belmont University, the Dickson Police Department, 23rd Judicial District Anti-Drug Taskforce, and the Dickson Explorer's Club.

A steady stream of people from Dickson and the surrounding counties brought their expired and unused prescription drugs to the community event held in the parking lot of Horizon Medical Center.

At the end of the day, 5,251 doses of controlled substances were collected and destroyed, about 60 percent more than during the inaugural event last year. Pills collected included tablets of painkillers, benzodiazepines, ADHD medications and sleeping pills with an estimated street value of approximately $43,800.

“Officer David Cole and I were pleased to build on the success of last year's event by involving more volunteers, adding a drive-through prescription drug drop-off area, a needles drop off, Shred-It truck, child-seat safety checks, and also a series of health fair booths for those people who had time to park their cars and stay awhile,” said Carrie Plummer, M.S.N., instructor in Nursing at VUSN.

Cole, crime prevention officer for the Dickson Police Department, came up with the idea for these annual events after attending a crime prevention seminar where he saw a demonstration of an incinerator that burns pills into ash for safe disposal.

Organizers did not ask participants questions about the drugs they brought to the event, and instead focused on using this as a way to help get prescription drugs off the streets and out of the schools as well as to get rid of expired medications that can be toxic if taken after the expiration date.

“We saw it all,” said Plummer. “One person dropped off more than 300 pills of hydrocodone and 200 of morphine. Another turned in an expired pack of Russian thyroid medicine. Our oldest medication was a bottle of Iodine circa 1960. In the end, this event was an interdisciplinary effort to reduce adverse health outcomes such as accidental poisonings, adverse drug events, and prescription drug misuse/abuse by providing community access to a safe and “green” disposal process. Thanks to all involved, we accomplished our goal.”