Seneca, S.C. – Upstate residents are estimated to bring home over five million prescriptions per year, and many of those drugs end up in the trash, the toilet, or the wrong hands when they go unused. Project Rx, in partnership with Safe Kids Upstate, aims to combat this problem in Oconee County through the installation of a permanent drug disposal bin at Oconee Memorial Hospital.
The drop-box is a free, secure, anonymous service that provides the safest way to dispose of unwanted or expired medication. The collection site will accept unwanted or expired prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements, and veterinary medications from households only. Needles or syringes will not be accepted. Greenville Health System (GHS) Police and local law enforcement oversee proper disposal of the medication through incineration.
The Project Rx taskforce, including GHS and Renewable Water Resources (ReWa), has committed to providing a more permanent solution to drug disposal than periodic take-back days. Year-round availability allows individuals to dispose of prescription medications at their own convenience, keeping drugs out of our local waterways as well as the hands of children or those who may misuse them.
“Too often, unused medications either remain around the house or are disposed of inappropriately, creating risks to people and the environment,” said Hunter Kome, president of the GHS Oconee Medical Campus. “We hope everyone will take advantage of this safe, convenient way to dispose of unused medications.”
The coalition installed the first permanent drop-box at Greenville Memorial Hospital in spring 2016, and has collected approximately 625 pounds of medication since its installation. Additional drop-boxes are planned for Greer Memorial Hospital and Hillcrest Memorial Hospital in Simpsonville. Each box is sponsored by a community partner committed to curbing drug abuse and water pollution in the Upstate.
“Today, there are more medicines in the home than ever before, and this increases the potential risk to children of accidental medicine poisoning” said Daby Snipes, Special Project Coordinator with Safe Kids Upstate. “According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 59,000 young children are seen at the emergency department each year because they get into medicine while their caregivers aren’t looking. That’s why Safe Kids Upstate is proud to be the sponsoring community partner for this medicine disposal bin at Oconee Memorial Hospital.”
Project Rx also aims to educate residents about the impact that improper medication disposal can have on local waterways, as chemicals from pharmaceuticals that have been flushed or thrown away can leak into the water supply.
“Many people aren’t aware of the dangers of flushing your old medication, but it has a significant impact on our water quality,” said Ashley Rhinehart, Public Relations Coordinator at ReWa. “By offering a safe, free alternative, we’ll protect our waterways and keep our community safe, year-round.”
The drop-box is located outside of the entrance to the Emergency Department and is available 24/7.
The Project Rx taskforce has been combatting this issue since 2010, and has collected a total of 12,676 lbs. of unwanted medication, approximately the weight of nearly four compact cars.
For more information, visit the Project Rx website at www.ariverremedy.org.
About Project Rx: A River Remedy
Founded in 2010, Project Rx: A River Remedy is a local collaboration of community organizations united to help keep our rivers and residents safe from unused medications. As a safe alternative to flushing unwanted medications down the drain, or leaving them at home within the reach of the wrong hands, this program allows Upstate residents to bring prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements to a drop-box for a free and safe disposal, the perfect remedy for our community.
About Greenville Health System
Greenville Health System (GHS) — an academic health system that is the largest not-for-profit healthcare delivery system in South Carolina — is committed to medical excellence through research, patient care and education. GHS offers patients an innovative network of clinical integration, expertise and technologies through its eight medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices and numerous specialty services throughout the Upstate. The 1,358-bed system is home to 15 medical residency and fellowship programs. GHS is also home to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, a joint effort of USC and GHS. Visit ghs.org for more information.
About Safe Kids Upstate
Safe Kids Upstate is led by the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy, part of the Greenville Health System’s Children’s Hospital. Safe Kids Upstate is one of more than 400 coalitions affiliated with Safe Kids Worldwide®, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children, the number one killer of kids in the United States.
About Renewable Water Resources (ReWa)
ReWa’s goal is to promote a cleaner environment, and to protect the public health and water quality of the Upstate waterways, while providing and developing the necessary sewer infrastructure for the growing economy. ReWa serves more than 400,000 industrial, commercial and residential customers in Greenville County and parts of Anderson, Spartanburg, Pickens and Laurens Counties.