By JONATHAN POLSON
The University of Mary Washington Police Department collected four pounds of prescription medication this past Saturday in a drug take-back event that gave students and faculty the opportunity to turn in expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
Sergeant Shaun Jones, who headed the event, said they were able to obtain “a large garbage bag full of different types of medication” from “some students and a few faculty members.”
He said that compared to other agencies in the area, the four pounds collected was a very successful amount.
Saturday, Oct. 29 was the third National Drug Take Back Day, set up by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to the DEA’s website, around 4,000 agencies participated in the event last year nationwide.
Jones said the university was one of many drop-off points located around Fredericksburg for people to properly dispose of their unneeded prescription drugs.
He said that the drop-off point on campus was available to students and faculty, but was also open to anyone in the Fredericksburg area, and that they received medication from some community members as well.
The UMW Police Department said in their press release that, “The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.”
The DEA’s first national drug take back event happened in September 2010, and after its success, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act to create designated places for people to dispose of their expired and unused medication. The DEA is now in the process of drafting new regulations to put the Act into action, which could take up to two years.
According to the UMW press release, while the DEA begins to implement the Act, there will continue to be national prescription drug take back events every few months.
The press release said, “This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.”
They stated that prescription drugs that sit idly in medicine cabinets are subject to being misused and potentially abused.
“Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs,” said the UMW Police Department.
They said that studies show many-abused prescription drugs are received from medicine cabinets at home. They said the most common ways people dispose of unwanted drugs, such as simply throwing them in the trash, have proven to “pose potential safety and health hazards.”
According to the Federal Drug Administration, there have been reports on traces of medicine in water systems due to flushing drugs down the toilet. They recommend disposing of prescription drugs through drug take-back programs, but also have a list of drugs that have been deemed safe to flush if necessary.
Jones said that they want to give people the opportunity to “dispose properly” of these drugs. He said that having these drugs are dangerous because expired pills can affect you in a bad way. He said it is important to “keep them out of the wrong hands” such as young children and even pets.
Freshman Christian Perkins took this opportunity to dispose of the leftover penicillin he had received after a jaw infection earlier this year.
“I think it was a good idea to offer this event,” he said, and added that he chose to dispose of his medication this way because he had heard flushing it was bad for the environment.
“Any time we can get them off the street and disposed properly I consider a success,” said Jones. He said that the UMW Police Department is now working with the DEA for future events.