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Drug Take Back Day planned in Mt. Pleasant

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

When prescription drugs or medications are no longer needed, it's always difficult to know how to safely dispose of them. So, “Prescription Drug Take Back Day” was started by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mt. Pleasant Borough Police Department joined the effort four years ago and has teamed with Westmoreland Cleanways to provide area residents with a safe way to get rid of their unwanted and unneeded drugs.

“We have had unbelievable turnouts for the past drop-off events,” Mt. Pleasant Assistant Police Chief Dan Zilli said. “Even the one that we had when it snowed. People came out and we had an incredible turnout.”

The drop-off event invites anyone with prescription medications, including pills, liquids and creams.

Over-the-counter pills no longer needed also will be accepted, but syringes or bottles will not.

“We will take your bottles and dump the pills,” Zilli said. “We do not take bottles, and no personal information needs to be given. It is all anonymous.”

Westmoreland Cleanways volunteers will be at the drop-off and help with the safe disposal.

“Some of the stories that we hear are really sad,” Westmoreland Cleanways Executive Director Ellen Keefe said. “We may not see a lot of people, but those who come bring large volumes. Some people come with big bags filled with prescriptions that may have been from a loved one who passed away, and they have no idea what to do with them.”

Prescription drug abuse in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate, officials noted.

In the past few years, the Attorney General's Office has arrested hundreds of individuals involved with abusing or selling prescription drugs. Many of those arrested included doctors, nurses or medical professionals.

A common misconception with prescription drug disposal is that it is safe to flush unwanted medicine down the toilet or simply throw them away. Those options pose potential health and safety hazards, though.

“Once the drugs are collected, a representative from the DEA will come and the boxes will be secured then taken to an unspecified site to be safely disposed of,” Zilli said.

The collection will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in front of the Mt. Pleasant Borough Building.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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