Today from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Cedar City, Utah's Smith's Food and Drug pharmacy, 633 South Main St., in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Agency and The Iron County Sheriff's Department, will a accept any leftover medication as part of the biannual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
Nicki Hollmann, DEA public information officer, said the program began in 2010 in response to a public need. She said people didn't know what to do with leftover prescriptions, so they would flush them, or throw them away, polluting the water that would later supply neighborhood homes.
Additionally, Hollmann said that many teenagers who abuse prescription drugs find easy access to meet their needs by simply perusing their parent’s, or grandparent’s medicine cabinets for forgotten, leftover scripts that they could sample.
"Prescription drugs are the most widely abused drug by youth today, besides marijuana," she said. "Even though there hasn't been an incredible drop in the numbers of young people seeking help with abuse, we have to believe, based on the public response, that we are saving lives here."
Since the program began, Hollmann said the DEA has collected, and incinerated, over 3.7 million pounds of unwanted medication - over 45,000 pounds in the state of Utah alone. She said that with the over-prescribed nation we live in today, it was imperative to address the needs of the public to find a safe way to dispose of any unwanted medication, not just prescriptions.
The DEA will destroy any unwanted, or expired over-the-counter products, and vitamins, Holliman said, but they cannot take any hypodermic needles, radioactive materials, or anything that could be a bio-hazardous material. She said people who are worried about their personal information on their prescription bottles could remove the labels, black out their information, or simply turn it in in a baggy, no questions asked. All of the material is destroyed together when the medication is incinerated she said, so those who are concerned, could feel safe knowing labels are never exposed to anyone who could steal information.
Sergeant Del Schlosser, Iron County Sheriff’s Department, said that while they help with the twice-a-year DEA event, the Cedar City Police Department has a box at their office to collect unused medications throughout the year. He said he did not know the impact on drug abuse within Iron County, but he was always amazed to see the number of residents who turn out to the drug take-back days.
According to www.dea.gov, there are 59 collection sites in Utah. The website has an interactive page that allows users to find a nearby location by entering their zip code, or county, city and state into the search engine.
The campaign is nationwide, so anyone can use the website to access a location near them, regardless of where they live Hollmann said.