Safely dispose of unused prescription drugs at tomorrow’s Take-Back Day

By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian, October 27, 2011

Prescription drug abuse often starts with mom and dad's medicine cabinet.  (Image: cavale/Flickr.com)

Prescription drug abuse often starts with mom and dad's medicine cabinet. (Image: cavale/Flickr.com)

Local, state and federal officials are gathering this morning to urge community members to dispose of their unused prescription drugs during Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

They also want to raise awareness about the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Oregon’s Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Matthew G. Barnes, Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall and Oregon Partnership director Judy Cushing attended a news conference this morning at Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct.

“There’s a significant role for all of us and personal responsibility for disposing of these drugs and saving the environment,” Wyden said.

“As Oregonians, it took us awhile to see the meth epidemic,” Wyden said. “We are not going to let that happen again with prescription drugs.”

Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall said prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. She said she’s concerned about the growing number of heroin users who started with an addiction to prescription drugs.

“We urge you all to take this opportunity to clean out your medical cabinets,” Marshall said.

Portland’s police Chief Mike Reese did not attend. He was headed to a meeting at the Oregon public safety and standards department.

Jenni Bernheisel, a city crime prevention coordinator, said there are three locations available in Portland for the drug take-back day Saturday: the North Interstate Fred Meyer, the Gateway Fred Meyer and a SW Sixth Avenue and Hall Street location a t Portland State University.

Any one can drop off the pills anonymously.

“The pills will be incinerated so they don’t go into the water supply,” Bernheisel said.

If you throw medications in the trash or flush them, drugs can find their way into waterways. Wastewater treatment plants eliminate some contaminants, but not all can be filtered out; an Associated Press investigation found traces of prescription drugs in the drinking water of 41 million Americans in 2008, including hormones, antibiotics, and psychiatric medications.  –JW

In 2010, more than 400 Oregonians died of prescription drug overdoses, nearly five times the number of homicides, according to Oregon Partnership.

To make it easier for the public to properly dispose of unused and expired prescription drugs, disposal locations across the state will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For the nearest location, click here for a map, go to http://www.dea.gov, or call 1-800-882-9539.