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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Drug Take-Back drives scheduled across region Saturday

NASHUA – More than a dozen local police departments will be accepting unused and unwanted prescription pills during another Prescription Drug Take-Back drive on Saturday.

Residents can drop off old, unneeded or unwanted prescription drugs to police, no questions asked, at 15 locations in Greater Nashua between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

More than 90 local and state police agencies will participate.

The need to safely dispose of old prescription pills is immense.

During the last take-back initiative police collected more than 377,000 pounds, 188.5 tons, of pills at 5,327 sites, according to the DEA.

New England accounted for about 25,000 of those pounds, including 2,479 in New Hampshire, according to Stephen Derr, special agent in charge of the DEA for New England.

Combined with prior drives, close to a million pounds of drugs have been turned over in the past 13 months, according to the DEA.

Merrimack Police Capt. Peter Albert said officers see the need for a safe method to dispose of drugs every day on patrol, particularly when dealing with juveniles.

“One of the common threads are these are usually drugs that are taken from the medicine cabinet,” he said. “These are drugs that actually they didn’t need and have been sitting around for a long period of time.”

Police collect the drugs in boxes and bags. They’re brought to DEA facilities and destroyed in incinerators. No information is collected regarding how many pills are disposed of or what types, or who, are being turned in.

More than seven million people in America abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Albert said the take-back initiative is a good option to get rid of drugs since tossing them in the garbage or flushing them isn’t environmentally safe.

“If you have medications around that could be of value to anybody or could be a danger in your home, then why not bring them in and have them destroyed?” he said. “What we’re recommending is that if you don’t need them, get rid of them.”

Michele Leonhard, DEA administrator, said the sheer volume of pills turned in over the last three drives is evidence of the need for the drives.

“The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during the past three Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” she said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashuatelegraph.com.