Preventing abuse, protecting the environment is the focus of April 9 drug toss


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Several community partners, including the University of Louisville and the Louisville Metro Police Department, will host a drive-thru drug toss Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at three locations – UofL’s Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, J.B. Atkinson Elementary Academy and First Gethsemane Baptist Church.

    This event will take place during National Public Health Week, underscoring the need for safe and legal disposal of unwanted or expired medications.

    Organizers are encouraging residents to bring expired or unused medications, bulk or loose tablets and capsules, and medications that should have been kept cold but weren’t. Police will not accept used or unused sharps, hypodermic needles and lances.

    “We are proud to partner in this event, as it furthers our mission of environmental sustainability and promotes a healthier Kentucky,” said James Ramsey, UofL President.

    According to Richard Wilson, professor and chair in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science at the UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences, there are several public health issues related to improper drug disposal or allowing unused drugs to sit around the house.

    “Millions of Americans are abusing prescription drugs – including teens who find them in medicine cabinets,” Wilson said. “Children are becoming victims of accidental poisoning after ingesting medications, and studies now confirm trace amounts of prescription drugs in drinking water.”

    Medications enter the water system after being expelled from the body and when people flush them down the toilet. The Environmental Protection Agency advises against flushing medication. Incinerating used and expired medications is the best option, Wilson said. This should not be done by individuals and families. When the drugs are brought to drop off events, they can be incinerated by the appropriate officials safely.

    Taking unused medications to these events can also help reduce crime.

    “When people throw unused medications in the trash, it gives criminals an opportunity to find them and illegally use or sell them,” said Sgt. John McGuire, Jr., Louisville Metro Police Department, Prescription Drug Diversion Unit.

    Since the Louisville Metro Police Department began administering drug toss events in 2006, it has collected more than 7,500 medications.

    Other organizers include Building Resiliency In Campus and Community (BRICC) Coalition, First Gethsemane Baptist Church, 7th Street Corridor PAL Coalition and Portland Now Prevention Partnership.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.