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Prescription drug take back program nets pounds of pills

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Participation continues to be high in third year

By Amber Coulter

A national prescription drug take back day Saturday brought in pounds of unused pills across the county.

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The Drug Enforcement Administration organizes a take back event about once every three or four months.

Kentucky State Police then spread the word and collect medications turned in to law enforcement agencies throughout the region for disposal. This past Saturday brought in about 74 pounds of prescription drugs to KSP Post 4.

Sgt. Mark Gillingham said the program is important for keeping drugs off the streets, away from children and out of the water supply.

The amount was far less than the 127 pounds recorded in 2011, during the first take back event.

Gillingham said it is likely residents turned in much of what they had and have since been sending their medications to Elizabethtown and Radcliff police departments.

Both of those departments have mounted boxes where anyone can safely dispose of prescription medication every day and incinerators where the medications are destroyed. That means special collection days don’t make as much of an impact.

Still, EPD reported a heavy donation weekend with about 14 pounds of prescription medication turned in between Friday and Monday morning.

The amount donated daily varies, but usually totals two to three pounds every few days, said Carl Bee.

“It’s been a tremendous success here in the city of E’town,” he said.

Since starting slightly more than a year ago, the department has taken in about 400 pounds of medication, an estimated 385,000 pills, Bee said.

“I think it’s more than any of us thought, really,” he said.

RPD spokesman Bryce Shumate said keeping prescription drugs out of the hands of children and those who might abuse them is important.

There is no guarantee unused medications in the home might not be discovered or taken, he said.

“If you think nobody comes in your house and looks in your medicine cabinet, you’ve got another thing coming,” he said.

Keeping medication out of the water supply also is important, Shumate said. Traces of steroids and other medications that show up in drinking water require increased filtration, he said.

“That is extremely dangerous because you’ve got to remember that all the water we have is all we’re going to get,” he said.

Shumate said needles should not be placed in turn-in boxes because of the hazard they pose when the box is emptied.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.