Prescription medicine collection set for Saturday
Local, state and federal officials are teaming up this weekend in an attempt to keep leftover prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands.
Saturday marks one of two drug take-back days sponsored each year by the Drug Enforcement Agency and local police departments and health departments. The program allows people to dispose of medicine for free, with no questions asked.
Dozens of drop-off locations in Delaware will be open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday. Locations in the Newark area include:
• Newark Police Department, 220 S. Main St.
• University of Delaware – Laurel Hall, 282 The Green
• Christiana Care Surgical Center, 4755 Ogletown Stanton Road
• Delaware State Police Troop 2, 100 La Grange Ave.
• Walgreens, 1120 Pulaski Highway
Both the Newark Police Department and Walgreens have permanent drop-off boxes that are accessible during normal business hours.
Officials say disposing medicine correctly is important because it prevents it from polluting water – as can happen if medicine is flushed down the toilet – or falling into the hands of addicts.
“We must view addiction as the chronic disease it is. We can all improve the safety of our homes and communities by properly disposing of unused medicines,” Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker said in a statement. “National studies show that almost two-thirds of people who misuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family, including by raiding medicine cabinets, purses and drawers.”
In 2016, 308 people died in Delaware from drug overdoses compared to 228 in 2015 and 222 in 2014. Up to 80 percent of Delaware’s drug overdoses involve one or more prescription medications, according to DHSS.
“We know that prescription drugs are often a gateway to illegal drugs,” Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn said in a statement. “Ensuring that prescription drugs do not end up in the wrong hands is therefore an important part of our effort to address Delaware’s opioid epidemic. Prevention, treatment and law enforcement are all critical parts of this fight.”
Last year, Newark collected more than 1,800 pounds of medicine for destruction during events in the spring and fall.
“Removing unwanted prescription drugs from our community is an important public safety measure and we’re committed to helping the DEA in this endeavor,” Newark Police Chief Paul Tiernan said in a statement. “The amount of medication we are able to collect underscores the value of participating in these events.”
Drugs for disposal must be in a container such as a pill bottle, box, blister pack or zipped plastic bag, with personal information removed. Liquid medications must be in their original containers. Needles, aerosols, biohazard materials, medical equipment and batteries will not be accepted.
The drug collection box in the lobby of the Newark Police Department is available for anyone to drop of prescriptions, prescription patches, medications, ointments, vitamins, samples and pet medication.