Local Law Enforcement To Assist In Drug Drop-Off
Leftover or otherwise unwanted prescription drugs are the result of numerous circumstances. A prescription may be altered just after it has been refilled. People often discontinue use of a drug when they start to feel better, whether or not that is what the prescribing physician intended, and the remaining medication passes its recommended expiration date. Quite often, when an older person passes away, many bottles of prescription drugs are left behind. Medicines that linger in home cabinets are prime targets for diversions, misuse, and abuse.
Whatever the reason for the stockpiles of extra, unneeded medicine, there wasn’t much information available until recently as to how to properly dispose of it. Unfortunately, many people used to (or still do) simply throw the medication away or flush it down the toilet, both of which are potentially hazardous as the compounds break down in landfills or watersheds.
On Saturday, April 30, Towanda and Tunkhannock will join municipalities across the nation by offering drop-off points for unwanted prescription drugs. In Bradford County, readers may drop off medications at the Towanda Borough Police Department, 10 Park St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. During the same timeframe, Wyoming County residents may drop off old medicine at the CVS Pharmacy, Route 6, Tunkhannock.
“We’ve had very positive feedback, so we’ll see how it turns out,” said Bradford County Sheriff C.J. Walters, who related that he has known of several cases in the past when leftover prescription drugs have posed problems. This marks the first time that the sheriff’s department in Towanda will join forces with the borough’s police department to receive the medicine, at no charge and with no questions asked.
According to Wyoming County detective David Ide, the district attorney’s office participated in a pilot program with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in September 2010. “It was very successful last time,” Ide related, noting that they took in thousands of pills weighing more than nine pounds. “That’s quite a lump of pills, and we’re hoping to get more this time.” Ide wants to get as many unused pharmaceuticals off the shelves of homes so they don’t end up on the street.
People who are abusing prescription drugs often get desperate for new sources, Walters concurred, and have targeted senior citizens whom they suspect or know have stockpiles or reserves of prescription medications. Unfortunately, according to information released by the DEA, friends and family members account for most of the incidents of theft of pharmaceuticals. In a press release from the Wyoming County district attorney’s office, it was noted that, “by reducing the amount of unnecessary prescription medications in our community, the opportunity to steal and abuse these medications is also reduced.”
Accidental poisoning has also occurred among children and teens who encountered unsecured medicine. The DEA drug drop-off program was designed with seniors in mind. Statistics show that more people abuse un-prescribed pharmaceuticals than cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined.
In September 2010, Americans in communities like the Tunkhannock area relinquished more than 121 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites under the auspices of the DEA. The agency hopes to expand the service to a greater number of communities each year. Four days after conducting the successful drug drop-off in the fall, the U.S. Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which allows the “ultimate user” of controlled substances such as prescription drugs to dispose of them through designated government agencies. The legislation also provides long-term care facilities with the right to dispose of residents’ controlled substances by proper authorities. The DEA is still working on the regulations for fully implementing the act.
The Towanda Borough Police Department and CVS in Tunkhannock will be among approximately 4,700 sites in municipalities committed to the reduction of unwanted pharmaceuticals on April 30. For more information, interested readers may log on to www.dea.gov.