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Survey: Many San Diegans Don’t Know How To Dispose Of Old Medicines

Video

Survey: Many San Diegans Don't Know How To Dispose Of Old Medicines

Eric Hunsaker / Flickr

Prescription medicines are pictured, March 25, 2011.

Aired 3/24/16 on KPBS News.

A new survey put together by the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences found many people simply don't know what to do to get rid of unused or expired drugs.

Aired 3/24/16 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Dr. Nathan Painter
, associate clinical professor, UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy

Transcript

Prescription drug abuse touched Sherrie Rubin's life in a personal way.

The San Diego mom's son, Aaron, survived an OxyContin overdose. He can't walk. He can't feed himself. He can't talk. But his mom can. And she's using her energy to keep the same thing from happening to other young people.

Right now she wants to help keep dangerous prescription drugs out of young people's hands.

"Experts say that young adults get most of their medications from the medicine cabinet, either in their home or at their grandparents. That's something we can change with a very simple action," Rubin said.

A new survey put together by the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences found many people simply don't know what to do to get rid of unused or expired drugs.

Thirty percent of respondents throw drugs in the trash, while 15 percent flush them down the drain. A third just keep the drugs around the house. More than 80 percent of those polled say their health care provider never talked to them about the issue.

Proper disposal keeps medicines out of landfills and waterways and protects children.

"We want to be able to get the pills out of the medicine cabinet, which is one source of pills to get out into the street. We have been working with the prescription drug abuse task force, pharmacies and physicians to educate that community," said Thomas Lenox of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Nine of 10 people surveyed thought putting collection bins at pharmacies made sense. State officials are currently considering rules that would let that happen.

Meanwhile, there are safe disposal options. San Diego County officials have set up more than 40 collection boxes, most of them in public buildings or police stations. A list of collection locations can be found here.

In April, there will be a national collection day when expired medications can be turned over to authorities.

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