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Sheriff’s Office to collect unused medications

By Staff | Nov 10, 2010

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office will collect unused and expired medications Saturday, Nov. 13, in Cape Coral under a no-questions-asked policy.
Operation Medicine Cabinet will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, at 1619 Del Prado Blvd., S. Volunteers, uniformed personnel and a representative of the LCSO Evidence Unit will be on hand. They will accept over-the-counter and prescription medications for proper disposal.
“Mainly, we want the public to get rid of any unused unwanted medications, so they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Sgt. Karl Albenga, with the LCSO Narcotics Unit, said.
Specifically, the aim is to keep the medications away from youths.
According to officials, every day approximately 2,500 youths between the age of 12 and 17 abuse prescription drugs for the first time in America.
“It’s a huge concern with the growing problem of the abuse of pharmaceuticals and how readily accessibly they are to children,” Albenga said. “A lot of times, these are just found in their parents’ or grandparents’ houses.”
The LCSO will collect pills, vitamins and unused syringes, along with patch, cream and liquid medications. The drop-off is anonymous, so people do not have to provide personal information or how they acquired the medication.
“We’ll bring all the pharmaceuticals back to our evidence facility, where they’ll later be incinerated,” Albenga said.
Operation Medicine Cabinet also keeps medications from being disposed of improperly, such as being thrown in the trash or flushed down a toilet.
“Then these harmful medications are introduced to our water supply,” he said.
People are encouraged to remove any labels containing their personal information from the medications they plan to drop off, but the LCSO will have custody of the items from collection to disposal so it is not required.
Albenga said over the last few years, the largest number of medications have been collected at the Cape location.
“I think we’re going to continue to try to get that location,” he said. “We get a lot of cooperation at that Wal-Mart. They’re 100 percent behind us.”
The LCSO also will have drop-off locations set up Saturday at the Winn-Dixie, at 1145 Homestead Road, N., Lehigh Acres, and at the Hollywood Theaters at the Coconut Point Mall, located on U.S. 41, in Estero. Hours are the same.
This is the third year the LCSO has collected medications from the public. The event was previously called Operation Prescription Clean-out, according to Albenga. He said the agency is working with nearby counties this year.
“It’s the first year that we’ve actually merged and changed our name,” he said.
In February, the LCSO hosted an Operation Prescription Clean-out with the city of Bonita Springs. The department collected nearly 50,000 prescription and over-the-counter pills and liquids.
Operation Medicine Cabinet, a partnership with the Florida Crime Prevention Association, is an installment of the Pharmaceutical Take Back Program.
For those who cannot make it to Saturday’s event, medications can be dropped off at any time at the LCSO Evidence Facility, at 10070 Intercom Drive. For more information, contact the sheriff’s office at 477-1000.