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REF NO.: 129

SUBJECT: Memorial University’s School of Pharmacy to host Public Pill Drop

DATE: March 26

As part of Pharmacist Awareness Month (PAM) 2015, the School of Pharmacy’s Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and Interns (CAPSI) team in partnership with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will host the annual Public Pill Drop, where members of the public can safely dispose of their expired medications.

Expired medications can lose their effectiveness. There is also a danger they can fall into the wrong hands if not disposed of safely.

Dr. Barbara Thomas, School of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine, and clinical pharmacist with Eastern Health, teaches substance abuse to undergraduate pharmacy students. She says that prescription drugs can be as lethal as illegal drugs if used incorrectly.

“The most common classes of prescription medications that are subject to abuse are the opioid analgesics such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), the sedative hypnotics such as lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), and the psychostimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin),” he said. “Each of these medications can be lethal if taken in an excessive amount or if taken by someone whose system has not been introduced to the drug in smaller doses. They could experience respiratory failure in a person who is drug naïve. That’s the worry with medications like methadone being out on the streets.”

Pharmacy student Sydney Saunders, one of the lead event organizers, agrees that awareness is pivotal.

“Some of our students have been visiting local high schools to educate students about the dangers and risks associated with prescription drug abuse,” she said. “High school students are at a vulnerable age where they have more exposure to and knowledge about prescription medications. Therefore, it is important for us to do our part and make them aware of the risks of taking medications not prescribed for them.”

Chief William Janes, RNC, is proud to partner with the school on such an important initiative.

“This is a great opportunity to dispose of unneeded medications in a way that will ensure they do not fall into the hands of youth,” he said.

Sgt. Steve Conohan, RCMP, adds that prescription drug abuse in the metro area is a growing issue.

“We have to do everything we can in this community to spread awareness and offer preventative measures.”

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For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact Heidi Wicks, communications co-ordinator, School of Pharmacy, at wicksh@mun.ca or 777-7302/749-7462 (mobile); or Constable Steven Curnew, media relations officer, RNC, at ncmediarelations@rnc.gov.nl.ca or 729-8658.

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