Police to ‘take back’ expired drugs
The Cape Coral Police Department will be collecting expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs today as part of a national campaign.
The department, along with other local law enforcement agencies, will be taking part in the second annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The goal is to rid homes of potentially dangerous medications and to help prevent pill abuse and theft.
“It gives people an opportunity to get things out of their medicine cabinet,” Sgt. Dana Coston, with the Cape police, said.
Prescriptions can change over the years, so throwing out old medications can reduce the possibility that a person might take the wrong prescription, or possibly prevent residents from over- or under-medicating themselves.
“We’re really doing this as a community service that will hopefully make the medicine cabinets safer for some of our aging population here in Cape Coral,” Coston said.
Citizens also can make sure that prescriptions are properly disposed of by dropping them off during the campaign. When medications are flushed down a toilet, they could enter the water supply, creating a health and safety issue.
“This provides people with a safe and controlled way to get rid of these,” he said.
The campaign can also prevent the drugs from falling into the wrong hands.
According to the DEA, medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Currently, more Americans are abusing prescription drugs than cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined.
“Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet,” the DEA wrote in a prepared statement.
In Florida, seven people die every day from prescription drug abuse.
“Ridding medicine cabinets of expired, unused and unwanted drugs is as important a home safety activity as changing batteries in smoke detectors,” Special Agent in Charge Mark Trouville, with the DEA office in Miami, wrote.
People can drop off prescriptions from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Wal-Mart at 1619 Del Prado Blvd. S. or the Walgreen’s at 905 Cape Coral Parkway E. The sites will even collect medications prescribed by veterinary offices for pets.
The service is free and anonymous — officers will not ask any questions.
“This is a public service,” Coston said. “We’re more interested in getting the drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets.”
Last year, the drop off site was the Cape Coral-Lee County Library.
“We wanted to get a little more traffic,” Coston said. “The businesses really liked the idea of getting involved in something like this.”
The Cape police will collect, package and store the prescription drugs until the DEA picks them up. The DEA will weigh, count and then dispose of them.
Last September, four and a half tons of prescription drugs were collected from more than 140 sites in Florida. Nationwide, Americans turned in more than 242,000 pounds — about 121 tons — of drugs at nearly 4,100 sites.
More than 5,100 sites across the country have joined this year’s effort.
Locally, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Myers Police Department are also participating. Collection sites are the Tanger Outlet Mall, at 20350 Summerlin Road, Suite 3150, Fort Myers, and the Fort Myers police station, at 2210 Widman Way, Fort Myers.
The Tanger site, operated by the LCSO, will accept syringes for disposal.