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Prescription collections set for today

By Staff | Oct 29, 2011

Locals can dispose of their expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications Saturday in Cape Coral as part of a nationwide campaign.

The Cape Coral Police Department will collect the items as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The goal is to prevent pill abuse and theft by removing these items from homes.

Prescriptions can be dropped off between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the CVS Pharmacy at 737 Cape Coral Parkway E., and at the Wal-Mart at 1619 Del Prado Blvd. S. The event is free and anonymous; no questions are asked.

“We believe in the initiative,” Lt. Tony Sizemore, spokesman for the Cape police, said Thursday. “There’s a lot of people who have expired medications or medications that they don’t need – it’s a safe way to get rid of these.”

The Cape police, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, have participated in similar campaigns in the past. In May, the CCPD, Fort Myers Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office took part in one.

In the Cape, officers collected everything from over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, to unused syringes and tubes of inhalation solution.

After each campaign, the DEA picks up the drugs, then weighs and counts them before incinerating them to properly dispose of the items. Last year, four and a half tons of prescription drugs were collected in Florida alone.

Nationwide, more than 242,000 pounds were turned in – 121 tons.

“The overwhelming public response to DEA’s first nationwide Take-Back event last fall not only rid homes of potentially harmful prescription drugs, but was an unprecedented opportunity to educate everyone about the growing prescription drugs abuse problem,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a prepared statement.

Removing expired, unused and unwanted medications from the home can prevent people from accidentally taking the wrong drug and can reduce the chance of over-medicating or under-medicating. It also can keep 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. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

“Studies have shown that, for many, prescription drugs are the very first drugs they abuse – and all too often, they aren’t the last,” Leonhart said. “That is why we are committed to helping Americans keep their homes safe by ridding their medicine cabinets of expired, unused and unwanted drugs.”

According to Sizemore, the effort also provides locals with a method of properly disposing of their medications, rather than throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet – both improper disposal methods.

“Especially when talking about prescriptions or narcotics, you don’t want people going through your trash, and you don’t want it going into the water supply,” he said.