Rx drug-dumping day is Saturday

Posted: September 22, 2010

On Saturday, thousands of sites across the county will be collecting old or unneeded prescription drugs, as part of a first-ever nationally coordinated campaign.

Drop-off points include municipal buildings, pharmacies and police stations - among them almost every police district in Philadelphia. To find a location by zip code or town name, go to https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/search-ntbi. New Jersey also has a helpful website: www.operationtakebacknj.com, which lists more than a dozen sites in Camden County alone.

The collections are slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. nationwide.

The idea is to cut down on prescription drug abuse, safety hazards, and environmental problems.

"Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are increasing at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs," according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. "Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet."

Also, traces of many pharmaceuticals have turned up in the drinking water supplies of millions of Americans. Some of those chemicals get there from meds being flushed down toilets, or leakage from landfills.

In septic systems, flushed antibiotics can kill helpful bacteria.

For those reasons, health experts recommend drug take-back programs as the best means of disposal. If no such program is available, the recommended procedure is to remove medications from their original containers, mix them with "an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds," and put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid or sealable bag, before discarding the package in the trash, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Take care as well to obliterate all personal information, including prescription numbers, by using black permanent markers or duct tape, guidelines recommend.

For more, go to www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/takeback.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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