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Unwanted medications to be collected across Fay-West

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Prescription drug abuse

• 5.1 million people abuse pain relievers

• 2.2 million people abuse tranquilizers

• 1.1 million people abuse stimulants

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010 study

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Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

People with unwanted, unused and expired drug prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and medicinal creams and liquids can safely dispose of the potentially dangerous substances on Saturday at various police departments and businesses in Westmoreland, Fayette, Washington and Indiana counties.

Authorities are asking residents to remove the potentially dangerous controlled substances and medications from their medicine cabinets and nightstands and take them to one of several drop-off points from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, so they can be destroyed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The medications can be dropped anonymously into collection boxes. To prevent the spread of blood-borne infectious diseases, no syringes or sharp needles will be accepted.

Police say the effort is important because the abuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications is a growing problem. The Westmoreland County Coroner's Office said 67 of the drug overdoses this year were caused by a combination of prescription medications and one or more other drugs. Seven cases of suspected drug overdoses are pending, said Paul Cycak, chief deputy coroner.

In 2012, antidepressants accounted for 33 of the overdose cases. Oxycodone was found in 20 cases, muscle relaxers in 11 and anti-psychotics in nine, according to the coroner's annual report.

When the coroner's deputies go to the scene of a drug overdose, deputies bring back the suspected medications involved in a drug overdose, Cycak said.

This spring, Cycak said he and county detectives burned about 15 8-by-11-inch copy paper boxes filled with such unused and expired prescription medications. Cycak said he has four more boxes plus a cabinet full of those medications to be destroyed.

In a prescription drug collection in April, the DEA collected 371 tons of prescription medications at more than 5,829 locations nationwide during a similar drug take-back event. When added to the collections from DEA's other five take-back events, more than 1,409 tons of prescription medications have been removed from circulation.

Volunteers with Westmoreland Cleanways, a Greensburg-based environmental organization, will join law enforcement personnel to answer questions about the collection and proper disposal of medications.

The collection sites in Westmoreland County are:

• Allegheny Township Police Department, 136 Community Building Road.

• Arnold Police Department, 601 Drey St.,

• Greensburg Police Department, 416 S. Main St.,

• Latrobe Police Department at the Medicine Shoppe, Ligonier Street Plaza, 709 Ligonier St., Latrobe

• Lower Burrell Police Department, 2800 Bethel St.

• Mt. Pleasant Borough Police Department, 1 Etze Avenue

• North Huntingdon Township Police Department, 11279 Center Highway

• Rostraver Township Police Department, 205 Municipal Drive

The Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office will station deputies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to collect the medications at the following seven Walgreens pharmacies:

• 1000 Lincoln Place, Route 30, Hempfield

• 2801 Sharky's Drive, Unity

• 12119 Route 30 and 827 Magill Drive, both in North Huntingdon

• 4667 William Penn Highway, Murrysville

• 108 Greensburg Road, Lower Burrell

• 2455 Leechburg Road, New Kensington

In Fayette County, Uniontown police are working in conjunction with Uniontown Hospital to collect the medications at the hospital at 500 W. Berkeley St.

The Southwest Regional Police Department at 212 State St., Belle Vernon, also is participating.

In Washington County, Carroll Township police and Monongahela Valley Hospital are operating a medication collection site at the hospital along Route 88 in Carroll and the RESA Police Department is collecting the medications at the Stockdale Borough Building.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or

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