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Prescription Drug Take-Back Day sees varied participation in Maine

Alex Barber | BDN
Alex Barber | BDN
A box of expired and unwanted medications and pills are collected at a Rite Aid Pharmacy on Main Street in Waterville during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28, 2012.
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

WATERVILLE, Maine — The fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday saw big participation in some towns and not so much in others.

Waterville Police Officer Kyle McDonald was getting ready to seal up a second large box that had been filled at Rite Aid Pharmacy on Main Street with about an hour left of the program.

“It’s a good thing, I think,” said McDonald. “Rather than throwing them in the trash, they can dispose of them here.”

Cities and towns had 163 drop-off points in the state from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

In October during the last prescription drug take-back day, Mainers submitted more than 14,000 pounds of unwanted or expired pills. Nationally, the Drug Enforcement Agency received 377,086 pounds of pills on the October 29 take back.

Dover-Foxcroft Police Officer Rob Durgin said his department has seen a lot of activity.

“We made out really well,” said Durgin. “We just collected from all the surrounding departments. It’s at least a few hundred pounds. It’s better than last year.”

Other towns didn’t see such a high turnout. Newport Police Lt. Randy Wing said only 10 people went to the police department by noon.

Nearby Pittsfield only had one come to the station. It was to drop off an injured hawk, not unwanted pills.

“We haven’t seen anyone yet,” said Pittsfield Police Sgt. Tim Roussin at around 12:30 p.m. He was waiting for a member of the Maine Warden Service to retrieve the injured hawk.

Roussin said the department filled two boxes with unwanted drugs during the first take-back day. Last year, they filled one box.

“It appears to me that people are getting rid of their pills [on a regular basis],” said Roussin, referring to the green mailbox-like dropbox that is in the police station year-round.

Many police stations in the state have a prescription pill dropbox, where residents can get rid of their unwanted drugs anytime of the year.

McDonald had been letting people know that the Waterville Police Department has one of the dropboxes, he said.

“Right on the outside [of the box, it] says what you can put in it and what you can’t put in it,” said McDonald.

Needles and illegal drugs are not taken back as part of the program, he said.

One person brought in pills that dated back 15 years, said McDonald.

“They just hang onto them because they know it’s bad to throw them away,” he said. “They didn’t realize we have the box at the police station.”

Disposing the pills properly is a way to keep them out of the hands of those who might abuse them. The DEA said the majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from a family member or friends. Usually from the home medicine cabinet.

“That’s why we’re here, so they have a place to take them,” said McDonald.

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