201017 Regional excess medication disposal program focused on seniors

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:55 PM

Dianne Benjamin, EdD , Fund Development and Evaluation, Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS), St. Louis, MO
U.S. EPA recognizes that there is a need to research pharmaceuticals as environmental pollutants. Numerous studies have found prescription and over-the-counter medication in stream samples across 30 states. Today the public has two options for the disposal of these unwanted medications: landfills via trash or sewage systems via toilet or drain. A secondary problem of these medications is the rise in accidental poisonings among youth and seniors. Through an EPA grant a take back demonstration project was created using a local supermarket chain, students from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, CINTAS Inc., and four senior services agencies that serve the St. Louis bi-state region. To collect data, a team of over 300 student and community volunteers were trained to identify and record data on all medications presented at the 20 collection sites as well as to conduct interviews and surveys of participants and non-participants. Limited demographic data was collected to prevent identification of the participants. However, all data on drugs presented such as quantity, dosage, type, and reason for their disposal was collected. Due to state and federal restrictions only non-controlled substances were accepted from participants. During the year-long collection process, over 1,600 participants turned in medications or completed the survey, which was lower than expected. However, the one million doses collected exceeded expectations. Data collected is currently under analysis. Preliminary findings indicate that 44% of the participants frequently flushed their medications as a means of disposal. There are implications for further research, modifications in practices, and policy changes.

Learning Objectives:
Design a efficient regional model that removes and disposes of unwanted medications. Analyze research data collected during a bi-state medicine collection program focused on seniors.

Keywords: Aging, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Over 35 years of experience in educational settings at all levels, including triple certification as an environmental educator. Assisted in developing research concept for this regional medication collection project in response to a U.S. EPA national grant, which was one of only two projects funded under the grant's RFP. Assisted in coordination of the project and research practices. Lead grant writer for the application. One of 10 EPA grants awarded and managed by ARCHS.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.