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DA Encourages Participation in Drug Take Back Day This Weekend

Residents can bring their expired, unused or unwanted medications to several locations across the county Saturday—including one in Canonsburg.

Many Washington County police departments—in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency—will give the public the opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs this weekend.

This service—held at various locations, including one in Canonsburg—is free and anonymous.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds—188.5 tons—of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA, and approximately 4,000 at state and local law enforcement partners' locations.

In the three previous take-back events, the DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds—nearly 500 tons—of pills, according to Washington County District Attorney Eugne Vittone.

“The take-back initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medications (that) languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse," Vittone said. "It is no secret that the rates of prescription drug abuse in this country are alarmingly high and Coroner Tim
Warco has made me aware that we have had a sharp increase in the number of overdose deaths in Washington County—primarily among our young adults and children."

He continued: “Studies have shown that the much of the abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including (from within the) home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods of disposing of unused medications—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—is not safe and poses potential health risks."

Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering the medications to entities authorized by the attorney general to accept them.

The act also permits the attorney general to authorize long-term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. The DEA is in the process of drafting regulations to implement the act, a process that can take up to 24 months.

Until the new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months, Vittone said.

He added: “It is exciting to see this event growing. I am truly pleased with the support that law enforcement has given this event since (Peters Township Police) Chief (Harry) Fruecht organized the first event. I commend our local police for recognizing the need for this vital public service and providing these 16 locations in Washington County to safely dispose of medication that is no longer needed.”

Editor's Note: To read about Canonsburg's take-back program, check out our story here!

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