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September 2013 Column - Prescription collection kiosks reduce risk of abuse, poisonings


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Each year, Erie County holds a number of “Prescription Drop-Off” days in order to allow residents and medical professionals to dispose of expired or unwanted medications properly. These events have been growing in popularity and proven to be quite successful. After its last national collection day in April, the Drug Enforcement Agency announced that 2.8 million pounds of medications had been collected at more than 5,000 sites across the country since the event's inception.


The purpose of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days are to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposal, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications. Among the pills collected were highly addictive, potentially dangerous prescriptions. Prescription drug abuse is a major issue across the United States, and many of the medications are obtained from the cabinet of a friend or family member. Not only do idle pharmaceuticals create the risk for abuse, they also pose a risk of accidental poisoning, especially in homes with children.


The drug take back days have made a huge difference in our community and are an excellent community outreach; unfortunately the window of opportunity for residents to participate has been limited. Items can only be dropped off during the designated times on the designated day. Residents unable to attend are left either holding onto expired medications until the next event, or worse, disposing of the medications improperly in the trash or down the toilet, which is hazardous to our environment.


Recently, Erie County has started offering residents the opportunity to dispose of unwanted drugs when they choose. Collection kiosks have been set up across the county allowing residents to safely drop off pharmaceuticals at their convenience. Again, by removing these unwanted or expired drugs from the household, residents can eliminate the risk of poisoning or abuse.


I believe this is a simple and efficient way to combat abuse and accidental poisonings and I want to applaud the Sheriff's Office for introducing this program to county residents. In addition to medications, needles may also be dropped off. In the first month, the kiosks collected nearly 300 pounds of needles and pharmaceuticals.


Residents of my Legislative District can find these kiosks at the following locations: Elma Town Hall, 1600 Bowen Road and Colden Town Hall, 8812 Aurora Glenwood Road (NY 240). Additional locations include the three campuses of Erie Community College and the Erie County Sheriff's Office downtown location (145 Eagle Street).  For a complete list of sites, please contact my office at 858-8922 or email The county is also operating the SEAD (Syringe Expanded Access and Disposal) Project to collect used needles, syringes & lancets free of charge. There are several drop-off sites, including K-Mart Pharmacy on Orchard Park Road in West Seneca.  


As a reminder, the next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will be held Saturday, Oct. 26, giving residents another option to clean out their medicine cabinets. Locations have not yet been announced; when that information is available it will be posted at