Greenville drug drop box removes unused medications

By Ryan Carpe rcarpe@civitasmedia.com

February 6, 2014

GREENVILLE – The Greenville Police Department’s recently implemented Ohio Prescription Drug Drop Box Program is not only giving residents a place to dispose of unwanted medications, but also taking potentially dangerous drugs off the street.

The Ohio prescription drug collection/drop box was installed at the Greenville Police Department on April 6, 2013, and in just 10 months the program received more than 58 pounds in unused medications.

“That’s a lot of pills. We feel very good about being able to take those off the street and preventing them from falling into the wrong hands,” said Greenville Police Chief Dennis Butts. “We felt that any step we could take would help us in our endeavor to get those off the street. And fortunately this was one of those programs that was in essence free to us.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office partnered with the Ohio Department of Health and the Drug Free Action Alliance in 2012 to provide free collection bins to local law enforcement agencies, and the program has expanded to more than 60 locations across the state since that time.

The drug drop box program is designed to safely and properly dispose of unused and unneeded prescription medications, which have become a growing concern in recent years.

And since the program was implemented in Greenville, the police department has come across nearly every combination of prescription medication available.

“Any type of pill that you can think of we have disposed of,” said Chief Butts. “From a simple analgesic to blood pressure medication to hardcore painkillers to erectile dysfunction drugs. We pretty much cover the gamut.”

According to Chief Butts, the Greenville Police Department bought into the program to address the large amount of illegal prescription drugs that the office was regularly dealing with.

“We don’t want residents to merely dispose of them in the trash because you don’t know where they’re going to go from there,” said Chief Butts. “And we don’t want them flushing them down the toilet, because then they enter the ecosystem. Even as far as burning them yourselves, the fire doesn’t get adequately get hot enough to dispose of narcotics.”

The Greenville Police Department procured their drop box from another police department located southeast of Cincinnati, making the entire program at no cost to local residents.

“We’ve heard feedback that it’s an excellent program. Especially when loved ones pass, they don’t know how to dispose of pills,” said Chief Butts.

Once collected in the local drop box, the Greenville Police Department transports the medication to a foundry in Piqua where they are thrown in along with iron ore.

Both Chief Butts and a Greenville Police Detective are present whenever the collection box is opened or when any items are disposed of in an effort to keep a close watch on the dangerous medication.

And while much of the medications are legally obtained, they can still pose problems to the larger community.

As a result, the Federal Food and Drug Administration recommends if residents are not using a disposal box they should remove drugs from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, before throwing them into household trash.

The FDA also recommends placing the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag and scratching out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.

The practice of flushing certain medicines is also under fire due to concerns about trace levels of drug residues found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies.

However according to the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists to date have found no evidence of adverse human health effects from drug residues in the environment.

The Darke County Sheriff’s Office also maintains an Ohio Prescription Drug Drop Box, so that regional residents have two locations to dispose of medication.