Teaching Safe Medication Use

Published on 01 September 2016

An estimated 1.6 billion prescription medication pills, more than 40 percent of all prescribed medication, sit unused in American homes. To help clear out cabinets and cupboards in the St. Louis area, St. Louis College of Pharmacy is launching a public health campaign to teach the importance of safe medication use and disposal.

“This is the largest, most comprehensive community-based education effort on medication disposal I have ever been involved with,” said Amy Tiemeier, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice and director of community partnerships at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. “Unused medication should not be left sitting around the house. Medication can weaken over time, lose effectiveness and prevent you from reaching your health goals. It also could be the target for thieves.”

The College will utilize a nearly $25,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to establish and implement three impactful programs.

Educating Children and Families

The College will sponsor a coloring and video contest centering on themes of safe medication use, storage and disposal in the Parkway and Rockwood School Districts. In each district, the top prize for the video contest will be $500. Coloring contest winners will also be awarded a cash prize.

In addition, Tiemeier and pharmacy students at the College will meet with interested parent, religious or community groups in the districts.

“When we’re talking to parents, we’ll bring up issues surrounding the power of medicines and signs of potential abuse,” Tiemeier said. “My goal is to inspire dinner table conversations in homes across the region about these important issues.”

Meeting organizers can contact Tiemeier directly to schedule a presentation.

Safe Disposal

Another critical component to the outreach includes reaching thousands of Schnucks pharmacy customers. Beginning in November, patients filling a prescription at one of 10 Schnucks pharmacies will also be handed information about the nearest secure medication disposal location.

“Patients often keep unused opioid pain medication in their home,” Tiemeier explains. “These are especially dangerous because they could poison children or be stolen. Informing patients about convenient, environmentally responsible disposal options is a key part of the larger effort to combat abuse and misuse of medications in the community.”

Bringing Together Groups

Partners in the effort also include the Alliance for Healthy Communities, Community Resources United to Stop Heroin (CRUSH), the Drug Enforcement Administration-St. Louis Division (DEA), Missouri Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (MO P2D2), Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition and the Saint Louis Science Center.

“We’re excited to continue the College’s rich history of bringing together a wide variety organizations with the shared goal of improving health care,” Tiemeier said. “There is no way our efforts could be as extensive as they are without Cardinal Health Foundation’s generous support.”

Since 2009, the Cardinal Health Foundation has invested more than $5 million in partnerships and grants across the country to raise awareness and knowledge about the dangers of prescription medication misuse through the Generation Rx program.

“On behalf of Cardinal Health, we are pleased to support the work at St. Louis College of Pharmacy,” said Betsy Walker, community relations director at Cardinal Health and Generation Rx program manager.

The coloring and video contest, along with parent outreach meetings, will be held during the 2016-2017 school year.

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