Police to collect prescription drugs

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By Carol A. Clark

Los Alamos police are joining the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The event is set up to allow the general public an opportunity to deposit their expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs and also prevent pill abuse and theft.

In Los Alamos, residents can drop off their pills from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the east parking lot of Los Alamos Medical Center. Det. Paige Early and Cpl. Brian Schamber will be at the police booth to receive the unwanted pills. They will ensure that the pills are properly disposed of rather than entering the groundwater from being washed down sinks and flushed down toilets.

“The DEA developed this program to offer people a responsible way to dispose of their expired prescription medication,” Chief Det. Oliver Morris said. “Expired prescription medications can accumulate in the home or are left over from when a loved one has died.”

The program, which began last September, has grown to more than 5,300 sites nationwide signed up to participate in Saturday’s event.

This initiative addresses a public safety and public health issue, according to the DEA. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are high. More Americans abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Studies show that individuals who abuse prescription drugs often obtained them from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.

“The overwhelming public response to DEA’s first nationwide Take-Back event last fall not only rid homes of potentially harmful prescription drugs, but was an unprecedented opportunity to educate everyone about the growing prescription drug abuse problem,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart in a news release.

“Studies have shown that, for many, prescription drugs are the very first drugs they abuse – and all too often they aren’t the last. That is why we are committed to helping Americans keep their homes safe by ridding their medicine cabinets of expired, unused, and unwanted drugs.”

Last September, Americans turned in more than 242,000 pounds – 121 tons – of
prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites operated by more than 3,000 of the DEA’s state and local law enforcement partners.

Also last fall, Congress passed the Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow users of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them.

The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long-term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is presently drafting regulations to implement the Act.

Drug drop off

Los Alamos residents can drop off their pills from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday in the east parking lot of Los Alamos Medical Center.