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Drug take back event at Shaler North Hills Library another big success

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 11:39 a.m.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Shaler Township Police Department patrolmen Bruce Mion and Rich Zilaitis collected eight garbage bags full of expired or discarded pharmaceuticals at the biannual the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day hosted at the Shaler North Hills Library.

A steady stream of people visiting the Shaler North Hills Library last month filled eight large, black garbage bags with expired or unused pharmaceuticals in Shaler Township's biannual pharmaceutical drug collection event.

The collection was hosted by the township as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and was Shaler's fifth collection since it began in Oct. 2011.

Over the past two years, Shaler Township's collection has netted more than 1,000 pounds of expired or unused pharmaceuticals.

In April, Shaler Township had one of its largest collections to date disposing of 399 pounds of unused or expired pharmaceuticals.

This year's totals were not available at press time.

Norma Hufnagel, who helps to organize the take-back events, said she was excited to see people waiting in line for the Shaler Township police officers to arrive and open the four-hour take-back event.

Hufnagel and her husband, Dave, attend every take-back event at Shaler North Hills Library with photos of their son, David, who died in 2007 at the age of 35 after a long struggle with addiction.

The Hufnagels attend the take-back events to tell their story and thank people for their support by cleaning out their medicine cabinets.

“It's a great way to remember David,” Hufnagel said. “If we can spare one family the heartache we went through, it's worth it.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration created the take-back events to combat prescription drug abuse, which has been classified as an epidemic by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and is the fastest growing drug problem in the nation, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Following the collections, the pharmaceuticals are taken into the custody of the local DEA division and incinerated.

In April, the more than 5,800 take-back locations collected a total of 742,497 pounds of prescription medications.

In the six take-back events since the DEA started the national campaign, more than 2.8 million pounds, or 1,409 tons, of prescription medications have been collected and disposed of.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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