When it comes to collecting and disposing of unused medications, this year may be a record-breaker for the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office announced during a press conference Tuesday that the department has collected about 700 pounds of unused or unwanted prescription pills so far this year through it’s participation in the National Drug Take Back Initiative and the Georgia Law Enforcement’s Drug Drop Box Campaign.
Officials displayed a conference table laden with allergy medication, cold medicine, prescription bottles and sandwich bags filled with assorted pills during Tuesday’s press conference.
“What we have here today is the beginning of our program of turning in unused, expired or unwanted medication,” Sheriff John T. Darr said. “Most of that medication that we’ve received, I’m sure, has been from employees and family members and people here at Columbus Consolidated Government.”
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The Sheriff’s Office collects the medication primarily through citizens who drop off medications, including herbal remedies, at the department’s headquarters in the Government Center. The initiative has also sprouted a partnership between The Sheriff’s Office and six local pharmacies — North Columbus Pharmacy, River Road Pharmacy, J&J Pharmacy, Dinglewood Pharmacy, All Care Pharmacy and My Care Pharmacy. Citizens can drop off medication at any of these locations throughout the year.
“I cannot thank the local pharmacies enough for their participation,” Darr said. “There’s a lot of stuff in here that we would hate to see get into the wrong hands of any individual.”
Darr said one of the department’s major concerns was teenagers and young adults who often abuse prescription pills acquired through relatives. Another major concern is water contamination caused by flushing unwanted medication.
“I think what you have a lot throughout our community is they’re not sure how to dispose of medication that’s expired,” Darr said. “This gives them that outlet. And like we said, we don’t want this to fall in the wrong hands — especially kids.”
Pills disposed of through the program will later be sent to the DEA to be incinerated. Sgt. Kasey Trombley said in a Ledger-Enquirer article on the program that people disposing of their medication should not worry about information on the bottles, as those will be incinerated as well.
Last year, the department collected 900 pounds of prescription pills. At that time, unwanted medication was only collected during four designated events. After the Sheriff’s Office continued to get calls about the program and when the next drop off period would be, they decided to open up the program year round for 2013.
Darr said he encourages citizens to continue donating their unused or unwanted medication, even items that do not seem harmful, such as vitamins.
“I’m sure we’ll go past what we collected last year shortly,” Darr said. “When you look at things like this, it’s a partnership. We can’t do this without people stepping forward.”