Take Old Meds to APD Patrol Station
Lehigh County residents who have expired and unused over-the-counter and prescription medications will be able to discard those medications in permanent collection boxes that have been installed in 10 police departments in Lehigh County, including the Allentown Police Department’s Patrol Station at 10th & Hamilton streets. The Allentown location in the station lobby is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The boxes, which usually cost $500 and are similar to mail boxes, have been delivered to the 10 Lehigh County police departments that applied for them through a grant program made possible by a partnership between the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA), the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) as part of Governor Tom Corbett’s Healthy PA Initiative.
The MedReturn boxes were provided for free to police departments that submitted successful grant applications.
District Attorney James B. Martin and members of his staff worked with police chiefs to identify departments that were located throughout the county so that there would be numerous convenient locations for county residents.
“County residents have responded enthusiastically to the twice yearly drug collections that have been coordinated by my office, police departments, the Pennsylvania State Police, the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration and the Allentown Health Bureau,” Martin said. “Because of that positive response to the National Take Back Day collections that have been held since 2010, I wanted to ensure that residents could take medications to drop-off locations on a more timely basis. This grant provides for 10 boxes for safe disposal of medications year round and means that residents will not have to wait six months or more for the next collection.”
“This is an important initiative from a public safety and health standpoint because residents won’t have accumulations of medications in their homes,” Martin added. “These medications often include prescription drugs that are abused by teens and adults.”
Statistics compiled by Lehigh County Coroner Scott M. Grim are sobering regarding prescription drug overdoses.
As of June 30, 2013, there were 18 deaths ruled accidents and two determined to be suicides. “Accidents” includes decedents who had overdosed on anti-depressants, pain-killers, other prescription drugs and heroin and, many times, a combination of drugs.
These cases include people who have gotten out of rehabilitation facilities and relapsed. Often times, when they resume drug use after their systems have been clean, they use the same amount of heroin or prescription drugs as they did in the past, and it leads to overdoses, according to Grim.
In 2012, there were 66 deaths that were ruled accidents, 11 suicides and two undetermined. In 2011, there were 59 accidents, nine suicides and two undetermined.
Martin said that in addition to enhancing public safety and promoting the health of county residents, the boxes help to reduce environmental risks because they give residents an alternative to discarding medications in landfills or in drains where they can end up in the water supply.
Detectives with the Lehigh County Drug Task Force will pick-up the discarded medications. The collected medications will be incinerated in cooperation with the Berks County District Attorney’s Office through the Berks County Solid Waste Management contract with an incinerator in York County, which is an authorized facility designated to perform the destruction of controlled substances.
The one-way collection boxes are bolted to the floor to prohibit removal of the boxes and retrieval of medications from within the boxes without proper authorization.
The boxes, which are the MedReturn II model, are 55’’ tall, 22’’ wide and 17’’ deep and weigh 120 pounds.
Residents can place medications in the boxes anonymously. There will be no charge to residents for this service and no requirement to provide personal information or identification when using the box.
Signs are posted on each box informing residents of the types of items that can be placed in the boxes and those that are not accepted. Items that are accepted are prescription and over-the-counter medications, samples, vitamins, prescription ointments, prescription patches and pet medications.
Items that are not accepted are syringes, needles, Sharps or other sharp objects, medications from businesses and clinics, lotions or liquids, aerosol cans, inhalers, hydrogen peroxide and thermometers.
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