Med Toss promotes safety

By Rachel Aretakis

Lexington citizens and students can get rid of old medicine for free Saturday in a citywide effort called Med Toss to safely dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., anyone can take their unwanted medicine to five different locations throughout the city: Division of Police Roll Call Facility, Kentucky American Water, Consolidated Baptist Church, NorthEast Christian Church and Broadway Baptist Church.

Department of Environmental Quality Spokesman Mark York said Med Toss was created because there are “both public safety and environmental issues associated with proper disposal of medicines.”

“For years people have been told to flush [medicines] down the commode or pour [it] down the sink,” York said about previous disposal methods. “We are changing that message.”

Used and unused pills and liquids will be accepted. This includes over-the-counter or prescription medicine, vitamins and supplements, according to Med Toss’ website.

The Lexington Division of Police will take the collected medicine to an incinerator, York said.

Third year pharmacy student Lauren Willis said there are three benefits to having Med Toss.

First, she said the event will help to “prevent accidental use [of medications].”

The second benefit is preventing the misuse of prescription drugs, called drug diversion.

“The third benefit from this event is an opportunity to educate the public on what to do with expired or unused medications,” Willis said.

As a pharmacy student, Willis said she has an “inside look” into pharmaceuticals and said it is important to get rid of expired medications. She said it is a pharmacist’s job to keep his or her patients safe, and helping dispose of expired medications is one way to do that.

“I assume that most students have never even thought about what to do with their expired ibuprofen or Tylenol,” Willis said.  “They may just throw it out in the trash, which is not the proper way of disposal.”

Environmental Initiatives Program Manager Tom Webb said it is necessary to have Med Toss to eliminate hazards for children, possible break-ins and to get drugs off the street.

Med Toss is a first step to address these issues locally and is a way to help citizens understand that pharmaceuticals can be a problem in the waterways, he said.

York said there have been studies recently done that have shown some traces of pharmaceuticals in the water supply. He said this could be from old methods of disposal such as washing medication down the sink or flushing it down the toilet.

If students come to Med Toss, they should bring their pharmaceuticals in the original container and mark out their name and personal information. He said this is a good opportunity for people to do this easily and for free.

There are also tips for proper disposal on the website if they cannot attend.