Tuesday, May 8, 2018
PharmD students at the UI College of Pharmacy go to great lengths to get out messages that could save lives; they do everything from wearing a kangaroo costume, to having difficult but vital conversations.
Within the last month, Katy the Kangaroo has visited area children—through a safety fair in the Waterloo area, Van Allen Elementary School in North Liberty, and Lemme Elementary School in Iowa City—to teach them medication safety. Katy's Kids is a Patient Care Project through the American Pharmacists Association–Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP). Its goal is to educate kids in kindergarten through second grade about what a pharmacist does and the dangers of inappropriate use.


“It’s important to teach kids about medication safety because often children of this age don't understand that medicine is only for when you are sick or to keep you well,” said Sadie Donahue, Katy’s Kids past chair at the college. “Katy's Kids explains to elementary students that medicine is not candy and to only take medicine from your parents or from adults you know.”


Caleb Rux, another PharmD student, took over for Donahue in March. He said that the student organization was one of only two healthcare groups at the Keeping Our Children Safe Fair in Evandale, Iowa; the other was a nursing station focusing on infant care. The safety fair, overall, targeted families from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Roughly 50 kids and their families attended the fair.


“We are hoping to continue to expand outside of the Iowa City/Coralville area,” Rux said. “Katy’s Kids can leave a lasting impression on kids, and we hope families implement some suggested strategies regarding safe medication use, storage and disposal.”


How to safely and responsibly dispose of medications was also a topic on the lips of APhA-ASP members from the college who volunteered to be part of National Take-Back Day—at the Hy-Vee Drugstore on Boyson Road in Cedar Rapids on April 28—through project Generation Rx. The students provided patient education. They also took and disposed of patients' unused or expired prescription drugs. In the cases of controlled substances, they let people know where to take them.


“We were able to educate more than 30 patients on safe medication disposal,” said Raemi Chavez, vice chair of Generation Rx. “Our chapter also provides education on naloxone,” she added.


Naloxone—a prescription medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose—is something that the U.S. Surgeon General has urged more people to carry. Iowa pharmacists may dispense it to people without separate prescriptions. Iowa residents can keep it on hand in case a friend or loved one overdoses on narcotic drugs.


More deaths occur each year from accidental drug overdose than from car accidents, and 70 percent of those who abuse prescription medicines get them from a friend or relative, according to a Generation Rx brochure.

Where to dispose of unused or expired medicine
(including controlled substances)

Drug take-back locations are expanded on the annual take-back day to increase awareness. However, core locations remain available throughout the year. They do not generally accept sharp items such as needles.

  • Iowa City Police Department’s 24/7 Drug Drop Box, 410 E. Washington St., Iowa City, IA
  • North Liberty Police Department, 5 E. Cherry St., North Liberty, IA (7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays)
  • Coralville Police Department, 1503 5th St., Coralville, IA (7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays or buzz for after-hours assistance)
  • Search for another U.S. drug take-back location (links offsite)