UNION — Even though it will participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day initiative this Saturday, the Union Public Safety Department collects unwanted prescription medication throughout the year with no questions asked.
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is a semiannual initiative sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal of the initiative is to provide the public with a convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs that are no longer being used.
In a recent editorial urging the public to participate in this weekend’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell pointed out that drug overdose mortality rates in South Carolina have tripled since 1999. He stated that, in 2011 alone, there were 225 overdose deaths involving prescription drugs reported in the state.
McConnell pointed out that keeping medicines in the home that are no longer needed creates an unnecessary risk, especially if there are children and/or young adults present. He pointed to a 2011 survey by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration which revealed that more than 70 percent of those abusing prescription and pain relievers got them from the medicine cabinets of friends or relatives.
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will be held Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Union Public Safety Director Sam White said his department will be participating. White said anyone wanting to safely dispose of unwanted and/or expired prescription medication during the event can bring them to the Union Public Safety Department at 215 Thompson Boulevard and turn them in. He said no questions will be asked.
While his department will participate in Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, White said it accepts prescription medication for disposal throughout the year.
“It’s basically what we’ve been doing in the past,” White said. “The DEA take-back is twice a year and October 26 is one of them. We take them any time they want to bring them in.
“We had one person bring them last week,” he said. “They’d had their medicine changed and they had all this left and so they brought them in.”
In addition to preventing their misuse including overdoses, White said turning in prescription medication for safe disposal helps protect the environment.
“You want to keep them out of the landfills and the sewer systems,” White said. “If they are disposed of in the sewer systems they could make their way into the water supply. If they are disposed of in the landfills they can pollute the land.”
White said that in addition to possibly getting into the landfill and polluting the environment, trying to dispose of unwanted and/or expired medication by putting them in the trash raises the possibility that they could be found and misused by someone putting them in danger.
At the present time, White said his department has approximately one pound of unwanted and/or expired medication in its possession. While a pound of medication does not take up a lot of space, White said “it’s a lot of pills” that no longer pose a health and/or environmental hazard.
White said that once his department accumulates enough unwanted and/or expired medication it will contact the Union County Sheriff’s Office to arrange for its disposal. The medication will then be disposed of in the “Drug Terminator,” an incinerator owned by the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff David Taylor said Wednesday that his office will not be participating in Prescription Drug Take-Back Day because it already collects unwanted and/or expired medication on a daily basis. Taylor said anyone with medication they want to turn in for disposal can do so at his department’s office in the basement of the Union County Courthouse from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Jonesville Police Chief Jimmy Kimbrell said that his department will not participate in the event either, but said that anyone who wants to dispose of unwanted and/or expired medication can call the department at 864-674-5272 to arrange to drop them off.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org