August 5, 2010

VUSN event eases disposal of expired prescription drugs

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Vanderbilt University School of Nursing recently partnered with other groups to hold a drug disposal event in Dickson County. Here, VUSN student Heather Whaley gathers pill bottles to be destroyed. (photo by Carrie Plummer)

VUSN event eases disposal of expired prescription drugs

Thousands of prescription pills were safely disposed of at a recent Dickson County drug disposal event thanks to the combined efforts of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN) faculty and students, the Dickson Police Department, Lipscomb College of Pharmacy students, the Hamblin County Anti-Drug Coalition and other community pharmacists.

A steady stream of people from Dickson, Hickman, Davidson and Humphreys counties brought their expired and unused prescription drugs to the drop-off point in the Dickson Kroger parking lot.

At the end of the four-hour event, 41,577 pills were collected and destroyed, including 1,968 tablets of controlled substances such as pain killers, benzodiazepines, ADD medications, and sleeping pills with an estimated street value of approximately $5,655.

“One gentleman literally brought enough medications to fill an entire shopping cart full — all by himself,“ said Carrie Plummer, M.S.N., instructor of Nursing/Adult and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Program at VUSN. “Feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive with many people asking when the next event was planned.

“It's been a pretty amazing process pulling this event together with David Cole and the Dickson Police Department,” she said.

Cole, crime prevention officer for the Dickson Police Department, came up with the idea 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 get rid of expired medications that can be toxic if taken after the expiration date.

“This was a truly interdisciplinary effort with many community volunteers and students participating, and was a wonderful educational experience for all involved,” Plummer said.