With the help of an environmental grant from Xcel Energy and assistance from the Amarillo Police Department, the Texas Panhandle Poison Center (TPPC) is set to continue an important community program by hosting its Amarillo spring Medication Cleanout from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., April 9, at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Pharmacy, 1300 S. Coulter across from Northwest Texas Hospital.
Managing Director Jeanie Jaramillo-Stametz, Pharm.D., said TPPC has conducted 41 Medication Cleanout events in Amarillo, Abilene, Lubbock and several other TPPC service area communities since the program started in September 2009. Combined, the collections have taken in more than 27,000 pounds of unused, unwanted and expired medications for proper disposal.
Jaramillo-Stametz said the collections provide a safe option for disposing of unused medications, thereby reducing the potential for negative environmental impact, poisoning and the misuse of leftover medications like antibiotics and pain medications. The last Amarillo collection in September saw 776 people bring in more than 1,815 pounds, making it the largest Medication Cleanout collection to date.
“This is also a good opportunity for families who have had a loved one pass away to safely dispose of leftover meds,” Jaramillo-Stametz said. “People are told not to flush these drugs or throw them in the trash because this may result in contamination of the water supply, but they are not really provided with alternatives. Medication Cleanout provides a safe and responsible alternative.”
The cost-free event employs a drive-through, drop-off format. Jaramillo-Stametz said medications should be kept in their original containers whenever possible. Event volunteers will black out identifying patient information prior to disposal. Due to environmental and regulatory restrictions, only medications from households can be accepted; medications from clinics, pharmacies and other businesses are not allowed.
In addition to Medication Cleanout, Amarillo-area residents have several other options for medication disposal. There are drop boxes located at the Potter County and Randall County sheriff’s offices, and there is a recently installed drop box at TTUHSC’s Amarillo pharmacy located at 1400 S. Coulter on the first floor of the School of Medicine building.
Jaramillo-Stametz urged residents to take advantage of these disposal options during the months between Medication Cleanout collections.
“There are so many teenagers with ready access to prescription medications right in their homes or the homes of their relatives or friends,” she added. “Teens feel that prescription medications are safe to abuse, when nothing could be further from the truth.
“Nationally, we are seeing that heroin and illicit drug users often began their abuse with prescription medications, so simply keeping unsecured, unused medications in the home is a risk. Additionally, addiction can occur very rapidly and is absolutely devastating to the user and his or her family. It’s just not worth the risk to hold on to unused medications.”
TPPC will complete its spring collection cycle with additional Medication Cleanout events in Abilene (Apr. 23) and Lubbock (Apr. 30). For more information about Medication Cleanout, including volunteer opportunities, please contact TPPC at (806) 414-9495 or visit www.MedicationCleanout.com.