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March 19, 2015



Drug Take-Back Day nets 450 lbs. of medications

To the editor:

On March 4 the School of Pharmacy conducted a successful Drug Take-Back Day at the University Pharmacy in Nordenberg Hall.  In just seven hours, over 450 pounds of drugs were collected from nearly 150 people. We saw a diverse crowd composed of 61 percent University and UPMC staff, 24 percent faculty and 15 percent students.

This event was made successful through the joint collaboration of Dean Patricia D. Kroboth from the School of Pharmacy; Deputy District Attorney Tom Swan from the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office; Patrick Pugliese, director of the University Pharmacy, and Lt. James Kenna from the University of Pittsburgh Police Department.

Events like this one are crucial in promoting the responsible disposal of drugs. The improper disposal of drugs poses a great risk to our public health. Drugs disposed of in our trash pose a risk for abuse and theft which can lead to injury and overdose. In the United States, prescription drugs are now the second most abused illegal substances after marijuana. Allegheny County, like many urban municipalities, has been increasingly affected by prescription drug abuse. Our community has seen a recent spike in the number of prescription-related overdose deaths in the last few years.

Additionally, drugs flushed down the drain pose a risk to our water supply. Evidence of both prescription and over-the-counter medications has been found in our rivers and streams. Contamination of our watershed can affect not only human but animal and plant health. Pharmaceuticals have been shown to cause mutations in our aquaculture which we then consume. Pharmaceuticals have also found their way into our soil through the use of river water to water our crops. The effect of secondhand intake of pharmaceuticals by wildlife and humans has not been widely studied. However, this trend is alarming because most water-processing facilities lack systems to filter our pharmaceuticals due to their high solubility and diverse chemical structure.

In accordance with the mission of the University-wide initiative known as the “Year of Sustainability,” this project prevented the potential release of over 450 pounds of pharmaceuticals into our environment. This event also helped prevent countless cases of drug abuse and overdose.

Due to the success of Drug Take-Back Day and the lack of accessibility of permanent drug-disposal facilities, another University-wide disposal event is being planned for spring 2016. We are also investigating the installation of a permanent drug disposal box on campus. Stay tuned to Read Green to learn about future events. Thank you for your support in this sustainability effort.

Justin Saver

Drug Take-Back Coordinator

PharmD Candidate, Class of 2018

School of Pharmacy

Medicine background

Group wants Pitt to divest of fossil fuels

To the editor:

We, the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition, urge the Board of Trustees to move the University’s endowment monies out of the fossil fuel sector. We estimate that the University invests 4.7 percent of its $3.5 billion endowment in the fossil fuel industry. We hope that the University of Pittsburgh will follow in the footsteps of other universities, colleges, businesses and most recently, the Rockefeller Foundation, to divest its endowment from the 200 largest fossil fuel companies.

If you scan today’s newspapers, you’ll see stories about 19-car oil tanker train explosions, destruction of entire mountaintops and extreme weather patterns made more frequent by climate change. These are the effects of the extraction, transportation and burning of fossil fuels by some of today’s most powerful corporations. The fossil fuel industry levies its financial and political power to maintain a grasp on our economy and legislatures. The Koch brothers, who largely profit from fossil fuels, aim to spend $889 million dollars on elections in 2016 alone, threatening our democratic system. Pitt has an opportunity for ethical leadership.

We recognize and applaud all the University’s sustainability efforts, but it is simply not enough. Pitt’s reputation is in jeopardy if we continue to support and invest in fossil fuel companies. In order to have a truly profound impact, we must accomplish something as landmark as divesting our endowment from fossil fuels.

The University of Pittsburgh stands for truth and virtue. Climate change represents an inevitable, scientific truth that we, the future generation, will face. We must now show virtue in our attempts to mitigate the growing crisis by divesting our institution’s endowment from fossil fuels. This is our future. This is a call to action.

Kacy McGill

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2015


Paul Heffernan

Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2015


Ken Service, vice chancellor for communications, responds:

We understand our students’ concerns about climate change, but the entire issue of our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels is a complex one, involving many interrelated issues. It is far from clear how divestiture would affect this matter.


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