On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mary Rutan Hospital along with local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) gave us another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding our homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service was free and anonymous, no questions asked.
This year Mary Rutan Hospital broadened the medication take back event offering drop off sites throughout the county. The four sites included Mary Rutan Hospital, the West Liberty Police Department, the Depot in Belle Center, and the Indian Joint Fire District in Russells Point.
On Saturday, these combined efforts collected a record total 195.5 pounds in unused prescription and over-the-counter medication. Bellefontaine took in 103.5 pounds, Russells Point 58 pounds, West Liberty 22 pounds, and Belle Center 12 pounds.
Medication Take Back Day continues to expand in Logan County. Over 329 pounds of medication has been collected this year. In 2011, 252.4 pounds was collected. In 2010, 77.3 pounds of medication was turned in.
Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners. In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills. In Logan County, the April event collected 134.2 pounds of medication.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines kept in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, we are now advised that our usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” 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 drafting regulations to implement the Act. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.