Fall 2019

Prescription for change


Twenty-one states have drug repository programs that allow unused prescription medications to be collected and distributed to people who can’t afford them. 

But, as fourth-year College of Pharmacy student Rowan Mahon learned in 2017, Minnesota isn’t among them. In fact, millions of dollars in unused medications are thrown away annually in Minnesota.

This prompted Mahon and the University of Minnesota Public Health Advocacy Student Alliance to take action, starting with pushing through state legislation to create a program.  

Starting in 2020, Sterling Pharmacy will create a central repository where health facilities can send unused drugs. After undergoing stringent safety checks, the drugs will be listed in an inventory available to clinics and pharmacies, which can request medications for those in need. 

Mahon, who did her master’s thesis on drug repositories, is now working to raise $250,000 to run the program for the first year.

A 2019 recipient of the Mary A. McEvoy Public Engagement and Leadership Award, Mahon anticipates pursuing work related to public health when she graduates in 2020. 

“Pharmacists play a key role in improving health care and lowering costs,” she says.