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March 20, 2018

UVA Offers Safe Way to Dispose of Unwanted Medications

To help Central Virginia residents safely and securely get rid of unwanted or unused prescription medications, University of Virginia Health System has recently added a medication receptacle at its main outpatient pharmacy.

The receptacle is located in the outpatient pharmacy waiting area inside the lobby of UVA’s Education Resource Center at 1240 Lee St., across from UVA Medical Center. Upon entering the waiting area, visitors will find the large green receptacle on the left side. The outpatient pharmacy and receptacle are both open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This country, including the Commonwealth of Virginia, is experiencing a crisis of misuse and abuse of medications, specifically opioids and narcotics. A great deal of the drugs that cause death and other serious harm are not street drugs but are prescription medications that are taken inappropriately or fall into the wrong hands,” said Justin Vesser, a pharmacy supervisor at UVA. “The drug take-back receptacle gives the public a safe, convenient, discreet way to get unwanted or unused prescription medications disposed of properly.”

Disposing of unused medications at a registered take-back location such as UVA’s is better and safer than throwing medications in the garbage or flushing them down a toilet, Vesser said.

“To throw medications in the garbage could still leave them open to being found and consumed by someone else, including a child or even a pet,” he said. “Some medications could even pose an environmental concern if dumped directly into the toilet by contaminating water supplies.”

How to Dispose of Unwanted Medications

There is a drawer located at the top of the receptacle that is large enough to hold most medications. Once the drawer closes, it drops the medications into the storage box below, which is inaccessible to everyone but pharmacy staff. There are also detailed instructions on the outside of the receptacle.

For security purposes, the tamper-resistant metal receptacle is anchored to the pharmacy’s concrete floor in four places. When the receptacle is full, it is sent to an outside processor that safely destroys the medications.

Vesser noted that the receptacle is for prescription drugs only. Illegal drugs are not accepted, and neither is medical waste such as syringes or needles. Pharmacy team members cannot handle any medications patients wish to drop off.

“If anyone has questions about medication return, they should feel free to come see us at the pharmacy and we can help point them in the right direction,” Vesser said.

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