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Feds: Don't Flush Those Prescription Drugs

National Take Back Day gives residents a way to safely dispose unused prescription drugs at local collection points .

Residents can participate in  the second annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a Drug Enforcement Administration program, and safely dispose of their unused drugs on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Local collection points include Suffolk County Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, Northport Veterans Administration Hospital and the Setauket Fire House in Stony Brook. Additional collection locations can be found at this link. The first event, on September 25, 2010, reclaimed more than 121 tons of material.

Debbie Danley, board member of the local drug abuse prevention group Kings Park In the kNOw would like to see pharmacies collect and dispose unused drugs that they have dispensed.

“Pharmacies that dispense medications should be required to accept unused meds back from consumers. With a pharmacy in each community, they are readily accessible, and experienced in handling medications, including controlled substances,” said Danley.

According to the DEA, more than seven million people abuse prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Improper disposal of prescription drugs presents risks to the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency warns against flushing drugs and says sewage systems are not equipped to handle them. Simply throwing them away still allows the possibility for the medications to seep into the environment and exposure to animals.
“Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet,” said Joseph T. Rannazzisi, the Deputy Assistant Administrator at the Office of Diversion Control for the DEA.

“This one-day collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies will again remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation‘s homes," he said.
Danley would like to see greater controls at the time pharmacies dispense drugs.

“It is our hope that not only all pharmacies will take back unused medications but New York State will put a real time prescription drug computer system in place to ensure medications are being used for the purpose intended not for recreational use or abuse.”

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