Tuesday, a steady flow of Ann Arbor community members and students made their way through the safe medication disposal tent to safely dispose of prescriptions, antibiotics, over-the-counter medications and other substances.

This biannual event was a collaboration between the College of Pharmacy, the University of Michigan Police Department and the nonprofit organization Yellow Jug Old Drugs.

The collections took place on Central Campus at Ingalls Mall and on North Campus at the North Campus Research Complex. Phi Delta Chi, a professional pharmacy fraternity, and the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists collaborated to organize the event.

Second-year Pharmacy student Emily Kaip is a member of Phi Delta Chi and co-chair of the fraternity’s Professionalism Committee, which organized the event. She said the collection of medications is important to reduce the amount of drugs entering the water supply or being thrown away.

“It’s important because I think this is a big thing that people don’t realize how damaging it is to really flush your drugs or just throw them away,” Kaip said. “You don’t throw away batteries or things like that — it’s the same thing.”

The event also involved the Yellow Jug Old Drugs organization, which provided the receptacles for collecting the medications and picked up them up at the end of the day for disposal. Second-year Pharmacy student David Iong, the other co-chair of the Phi Delta Chi Professionalism Committee emphasized that Yellow Jug Old Drugs helped make the event possible.

“Usually you’d have to pay for disposal of medication, but they’re willing to donate all the supplies for us to get rid of all the drugs for free,” he said.

UMPD Officer Kaitlin Deslatte oversaw the event, and said her participation was a part of the department’s community outreach efforts.

“We want to use our resources as a security measure, to make sure everything is following proper uses and regulations,” Deslatte said.

She added that she felt this event was important from both a health and an environmental perspective.

“We see a lot of use and abuse,” Deslatte said. “It’s great to have a place where people can dispose of these things without harming themselves and the environment.”

Iong noted that this collaboration between organizations permitted them to provide a service that pharmacies are often unwilling or unable to provide normally.

“A lot of pharmacies, they don’t like to take back prescriptions, and more importantly, pharmacies don’t take back controlled substances, which is what we do today,” he said.

Pharmacy Prof. Peggy Carver, who was the faculty instructor for the project, said the magnitude of the drugs collected at the event put into perspective how important these efforts are for the community and the environment.

“If you saw the amount of drugs at the end of the day, you would be astounded,” Carver said. “And when you think about how much those medications are being kept out of going in rivers and streams and water, it’s mind-boggling.” 

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