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Taking back prescription drugs
RUMFORD -- Midway through the four-hour collection effort, Rumford police had already garnered prescription drug containers that nearly filled half a garbage bag.
They set up beside the pharmacy at Hannaford supermarket on Saturday, collecting unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal, no questions asked. This was the second year they had participated in the National "Take Back Prescription Drugs" Day.
Other collection points included the Rumford police station, the Mexico Town Office by the Mexico police, and by Dixfield police at their station and town office. The service stems from the departments' partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter said they are partnering with DEA "in this nationwide initiative to properly dispose of these unwanted prescriptions in an attempt to reduce the risk of accidental overdose by small children or others who mistook them for other medications.
“Only drugs that are so potentially dangerous to people rather than the environment should be flushed,” Carter said. “Such drugs will say on their labels if they are flushable.”
Prescription medications, including those that contain controlled substances, are prescribed to specific people by their doctors.
“A drug can be helpful to someone with a particular sickness but harmful to others,” he said.
“One drug may interact with another that someone is taking in a way that can seriously harm or kill them. It is also illegalto give a controlled substance to someone else.”
The medication will be turned over to DEA to be incinerated according to federal and state environmental guidelines.
Last September, Americans turned in 242,000 pounds (121 tons) of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement partners. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish 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, Americans are now advised that their 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 last fall’s 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 longterm care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.
DEA has begun drafting regulations to implement the Act, a process that can take as long as 24 months. 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.
Rumford Police Det. Sgt. James Bernard (right) holds a large bag full of empty containers after their contents were placed in a box beside Capt. Dan Garbarini during Saturday's four-hour collection at Hannaford supermarket to receive unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal, no questions asked. Other collection points included the Rumford police station, the Mexico Town Office by the Mexico police, and by Dixfield police at their station and town office. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)