Discard Those Pesky Pills Safely

The MedSafe bin located in the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center.

Have you ever wondered what to do with medicine you no longer need or is expired? Pharmacies in the Alaska Native Medical Center Hospital, Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, and Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center have recently installed Medsafe medication collection bins. The bins are for all legally held medications including over-the-counter, prescription drugs, and controlled substances (schedules II-V). Unused and expired medication can be harmful to those we care about as well as the environment and wildlife. These receptacles are a safe method to dispose of medication no longer needed.

The MedSafe bins are not for schedule I drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration website defines schedule I drugs as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for misuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3 or 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.

In addition to the new bins, there are other ways to dispose of your unused or expired medication; you can dispose of the medication at home in a safe manner, such as mixing them in with garbage. Why mix them in with the garbage and not just throw the container in the garbage? Medication mixed with garbage is less likely to be accidentally consumed or used improperly.

As part of her platform as Miss Alaska USA 2019, JoEllen Walters advocates for proper medication disposal. She reminds Alaskans that flushing medication is not a good option. The state’s water filtration system can’t handle the chemicals, and the effects on the environment are unknown. Since making this part of her platform, Walters has been amazed at what proper disposal can do.

“Proper disposal of medication can help prevent abuse, reduce crime driven by addiction, and help create a better community,” she said.

The bins around the Alaska Native Health Campus and VNPCC are lined with a bag that has a serial number. Once a liner is full, it is sent to an DEA facility and incinerated — the DEA preferred method to dispose of medication. If one of the SCF locations is inconvenient, there are other locations around the Anchorage area including the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Clinic (4951 Business Park Blvd. suite 106) and Providence Health and Services (3300 Providence Drive).

Another way to dispose of medications safely is the DEA-sponsored National Drug Take Back Day. This year’s 17th annual event occurs on April 27, 2019 in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough. The October 2018 event collected 3,978 pounds of drugs from Alaska.

For more information or questions, contact the ANPCC Pharmacy at (907) 729- 4172, Benteh Nuutah VNPCC Pharmacy at (907) 631-7660, or ANMC Pharmacy at (907) 729-2117.

More information about schedule I-V drugs information can be found at the DEA.gov website.

by Benjamin Merkouris

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