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May 2013 Column - County to introduce prescription drug collection boxes


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oneilj - Posted on 06 May 2013

This past weekend Erie County participated in the sixth annual National Prescription Take-Back Day and tons of expired and unwanted medications were collected across the country. While it is extremely beneficial that agencies offer this drop-off day, they are held infrequently and not doing enough to get medications out of homes and out of the wrong hands.


That is why I am pleased to share Sheriff Howard’s announcement that Erie County will have prescription drug collection boxes available throughout the county. These boxes will be secure and available 24/7 and allow for proper disposal of materials when it is convenient for residents. Sheriff Howard expects the boxes to be in place by the end of May.


On Saturday, many residents waited in line at the various Prescription Take-Back Day collection sites to properly dispose of medications. I believe that many of the medications collected had been sitting in households for a year, if not longer. With the addition of prescription drug collection boxes, residents won’t have to wait for the annual collection day to remove these drugs from their home.


There are several issues associated with keeping prescriptions in homes. A major issue that is increasing in our society is prescription drug abuse. An estimated 6.2 million American abuse prescription drugs and recent reports indicate that up to 70 percent of abused prescriptions are obtained from friends and relatives. This is extremely dangerous and can be deadly. Unfortunately the problem has been getting worse but through efforts such as collection days and collection boxes, agencies are trying to get these drugs out of the homes so they aren’t accessible to abusers and potential abusers.


Another concern associated with storing unwanted or expired medications in the home is accidental ingestion that can lead to poisoning. A recent study reported that between 2001 and 2008 the number of children visiting emergency rooms for accidently poisoning increased by 30 percent. Researchers say this is due to the rise of medications we keep in our home.


In addition, properly disposing of drugs keeps them out of our waterways. Studies have found increased levels of medications in waterways caused mainly from people flushing them down the toilet. A great website to learn more about the dangers of flushing drugs is www.dontflushdrugs.org.


With the addition of drop off boxes throughout the county, we can significantly reduce the various concerns outlined above and improve the safety of our children, friends and family.


The boxes will include a list of accepted materials, as well as items that should not be dropped in the box. Before disposing of any materials, please read the label on the box carefully and follow the directions.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my Legislative Office at 858-8676 or email edward.rath@erie.gov