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Shaler drug take-back event sets record

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:27 p.m.
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Shaler Township Police Department patrolmen Bruce Mion helped to collect 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.
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Shaler Township Police Department officers helped to collect 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.
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Shaler Township Police Department officers loaded more than 360 pounds of expired or discarded pharmaceuticals into the department’s van to properly dispose of them at the biannual the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day hosted at the Shaler North Hills Library.
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Norma Hufnagel, of Etna, holds a sign promoting the biannual the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day hosted at the Shaler North Hills Library, which collected more than 360 pounds of expired or discarded pharmaceuticals in April.

Strong public participation in Shaler Township's biannual pharmaceutical drug take-back event produced another record collection.

The event was hosted by the township as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and was Shaler's sixth collection since it began hosting a collection site in October 2011.

“They (collected) 15 boxes,” said Shaler Township Police Chief Bryan Kelly. “That's pretty good.”

Shaler Township collected 365.6 pounds of expired or unused pharmaceuticals to be disposed of by DEA officials.

Over the past three years, Shaler's collection has netted more than 1,800 pounds of pharmaceuticals.

“It's definitely a necessary thing for us to do and participate in,” Kelly said. “If you figure (you host collections) twice per year (and) you get 700 pounds of stuff out of people's medicine cabinets — there's a lot of stuff out there.”

Norma Hufnagel, who helps to organize the take- back events, said she was shocked by the amount of pharmaceuticals people were dropping off at the Shaler North Hills Library during the April 26 collection.

“There were a ton of people again, and the people who were coming, they weren't bringing one or two bottles, they were bringing bags full, so we were really pleased,” said Hufnagel of Etna.

“Knowing the take-back was coming, I went through my medicine supply, and I got two bags, and that shocked me personally because being in charge of it I never thought I'd get two bags.”

Hufnagel started working with the Shaler Township Police Department to bring the drug take-back event to the township in memory of her son, David, who died in 2007 at the age of 35 after a long struggle with addiction.

Hufnagel and her husband, Dave, attend every take-back event at Shaler North Hills Library with photos of their son to tell their story and thank people for their support by cleaning out their medicine cabinets.

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.

In October, the more than 5,600 take back locations collected more than 647,000 pounds, of prescription medications.

In the seven take-back events since the DEA started the national campaign, more than 3.4 million pounds, of prescription medications have been collected and disposed.

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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