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Get Rid of Old Medicines Safely

04/12/2016
Get Rid of Old Medicines Safely

Residents can safely get rid of expired or unused prescription and over-the counter medicines in their homes at a National Take Back Day drug collection event in Allentown on Saturday, April 30.

The Allentown Health Bureau and the Allentown Police Department will collect medications as part of the 11th National Take Back Day at Giant Supermarket at 3015 W. Emaus Avenue and Supremo Food Market at 602 N. Seventh St. from 10am to 2pm. The city agencies are participating in the program in partnership with the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Expired, unused and unwanted medications, including capsules, pills, liquid products, creams in containers and pet medications will be accepted. Syringes with needles and other sharps will not be accepted. This service is free; no identification is necessary and no questions will be asked.

Drug Take Back programs address a vital public safety and public health issue. Drug overdoses in Pennsylvania have increased dramatically in recent years and Allentown and the Lehigh Valley are no exception.

According to a U.S Department of Health & Human Services report, “opioid analgesics were involved in 30 percent of drug overdose deaths where a drug was specified in 1999, compared to nearly 60 percent in 2010. Opioid-related overdose deaths now outnumber overdose deaths involving all illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine combined.” Almost all prescription drugs involved in overdoses are originally legally prescribed by physicians.

Prescription drug abuse is also growing among adolescents in Pennsylvania. According to a 2011 survey in Pennsylvania, 14 percent of youth surveyed admitted to taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them and 18 percent felt that prescription drugs were not harmful. Additionally, 13 percent of high school-aged children have abused opioid pain relievers, 6 percent tranquilizers, and 12 percent amphetamines. Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.

“Taking the simple step of cleaning out your medicine cabinet of old and unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines can significantly reduce the possibility of an accidental poisoning or intentional misuse by a family member or visitor to your home,” said Allentown Health Bureau Injury Prevention Manager David Synnamon.

In addition, citizens are now advised that traditional methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose potential safety and health hazards.

A September 2015 Take Back Day brought-in more than 455 pounds of medications across Lehigh County. That brings the total to all collections across the county to more than 8,600 pounds since 2010.

Persons who are unable to attend the April 30 events are reminded that a permanent collection box is available at the Allentown Police Department’s Patrol Station at 10th & Hamilton streets. The patrol station location is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the station lobby.

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 medications are collected by the DEA for appropriate disposal by incineration.

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