Greater Falls Pharmacy helps fight substance use

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – National Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26. The day allows members of the public to safely, and conveniently, dispose of any unwanted medications. With a variety of Take Back sites involved in this semi-annual event, Greater Falls Pharmacy participates in a national effort to provide an accessible and safe disposal site year-round.

Greater Falls Pharmacy is able to accept unwanted medication free of charge, during store hours of operation. The secure container holds unwanted and expired prescriptions, brought in by members of the community, until they can be safely and environmentally disposed.

Drop boxes allow for a safe and cost-effective option for communities. They are easily available to anyone who needs them and there is no additional expense or hassle to get rid of any expired or unwanted medication. “This is a free and anonymous service. You don’t have to be the person listed on the prescription, anyone can drop off medications off with no questions asked,” Michelle Laurendeau, owner of Greater Falls Pharmacy, stated.

Once prescriptions are dropped off, they are not resold, repackaged, or donated to another person and are kept in the container until they are removed from the location. The medication is not handled or counted by staff and is disposed of in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.

Becoming an authorized collection site is a voluntary action; there is no mandate set by the government that pharmacies must participate. In order to meet the criteria of installing a drop box, Greater Falls Pharmacy had to modify their registration number with the DEA and then purchase the container themselves from one of their pharmacy connections. Other collection receptacles can be found throughout local law enforcement agencies, hospitals, or clinics with an onsite pharmacy, that have successfully applied to house a drop box.

Since the drop box has been installed, the pharmacy has received positive feedback. “People seem to be happy to know there are resources to dispose of medications outside of National Take Back Day,” Laurendeau commented.

With many Vermonters living in rural areas, and transportation not readily available, the pharmacy can offer suggestions over the phone about secure disposal options at home if people can’t make it into the store. A newer option provided by the pharmacy is the free mail-back program, which allows anyone to take a pre-addressed envelope and mail out their sealed medication to be destroyed, wherever and whenever is convenient for them. The envelopes are located in the front entrance of the building and available to anyone.

In addition to participating as a collection site, Greater Falls Pharmacy has a variety of other services available to its customers and to the Bellows Falls area. From a delivery service to multi-med packaging, the pharmacy covers a wide variety of its patronages needs. The pharmacy, in partnership with Greater Falls Connections, also trained a member of its staff on how to administer Narcan and how to train additional pharmacy staff, as needed.

“It’s satisfying to help meet the needs of our patients and our community. We want to make sure people’s needs are met,” Laurendeau said.

The general public is encouraged to use the drop off box during store hours, which are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Pills and patches only, no liquids or needles are accepted.

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