Prescription drug Take-Back Day is Saturday

Chief Troy Morton with the Penobscot County Sheriff's Department dispenses drugs into containers which were turned in by community members as part of a national prescription drug take-back campaign at Cascade Park in Bangor in Sept. 2010.
Chief Troy Morton with the Penobscot County Sheriff's Department dispenses drugs into containers which were turned in by community members as part of a national prescription drug take-back campaign at Cascade Park in Bangor in Sept. 2010.
Posted April 26, 2011, at 10:43 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Maine turned in the most unwanted and unused prescription drugs per capita of any state in the nation during last year’s National Take-Back Day, and all indications are that the state could well retain that title this year.

Law enforcement agencies participating in the program, which is coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, will accept unwanted and unused prescription drugs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30. The drugs will be taken to a couple of secure facilities in the state. There they will be weighed and later trucked to a secure out-of-state facility for incineration, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The Take-Back Day has several purposes, McCausland said Tuesday. The program not only helps prevent prescription drugs from being flushed down toilets, thus avoiding contamination of the state’s bodies of water; it also helps keep them out of landfills and the groundwater. And because some of the drugs can be abused by addicts, their removal from households also provides for a safer home environment.

At last year’s Take-Back Day, on Sept. 25, a total of 7,820 pounds, or nearly 4 tons, of unused prescription drugs were collected, the highest amount per capita of any state, according to McCausland.  That may be exceeded this year because a number of nursing homes in the state will participate, he said. Law enforcement officers will make their rounds to the nursing facilities to collect unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs languish in medicine cabinets for a number of reasons, including the fact that some people fill a 90-day prescription and find out that the drugs have side effects, prompting them to discontinue their use, according to McCausland. In addition, some drugs are beyond their expiration dates. Whatever the reason the drugs are shelved, Take-Back Day gives residents a safe way to dispose of them, McCausland said.

‘’The more we can get out of the houses, the less drugs there will be on the streets from people breaking into houses,’’ Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Dennis Dyer said Tuesday. ‘’We encourage everybody to go through their medicine cabinets and if they find any expired or unused [drugs] they don’t need, bring them in.’’

There are scores of dropoff sites across the state. To find one, visit the website justice.gov/dea and click on the top banner that reads “Got Drugs.”

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