In just four hours, 160 pounds of prescription drugs were taken out of the medicine cabinets and off the streets of Ashtabula County last Saturday.
The prescription drug take back program was sponsored by Ashtabula County Medical Center with the assistance of the Ashtabula Police Department. It was part of a nationwide effort promoted by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency.
“This is a great program; it gets a lot of drugs off the street that might otherwise get into the wrong hands,” Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said. “We are real happy with the results.”
A steady stream of vehicles drove through ACMC’s parking lot, as people handed bags, sacks and containers of old prescription drugs to city police officers. The officers, along with pharmacy staff from ACMC, emptied the pills into storage containers, ensured that no private health information could be read on the pill bottles, and disposed of the bottles for recycling.
After the collection period ended, officers transported the drugs back to the police station for disposal.
Pills collected during the take back program ranged from out-of-date vitamins to prescription narcotics.
Not only did the drug take back program help eliminate clutter from area medicine cabinets, but it will keep the drugs off the streets.
Local drug task force statistics show that prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Ashtabula County, especially among teenagers.
The safe disposal of prescription drugs also helps the environment.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guidelines, no sewage treatment facility is designed to effectively remove pharmaceuticals that are flushed or washed down the drain. These drugs make their way into local rivers and lakes, and eventually into our water supply.
Ashtabula police officers on-hand to take the prescription drugs from people included Patrolman Tom Clemens, Jr., Patrolman Tom Perry, Captain Jeff Bradley and Captain Gerald Cornelius.
This is the third year the police department has been involved in this program, Stell said.
ACMC Caregivers on-hand to assist included Pharmacy Director Robin Guter, Pharmacist Eric Price, Clinical Coordinator Wendy Nagy, Pharmacy Tech Nancy Howard and Vice President of Business Development Tina Stasiewski.