The Response - 22

community safety

Berks County

Medication Drop Box Program
by John Adams, District Attorney County of Berks and Coalition Member


oday Americans use prescription medications at unprecedented
rates and their use has become normalized in our culture.
Nearly 3 of every 5 American adults take a prescription drug thus
making the United States the greatest consumer of medications in the
world. The increased use and availability of medications has led to easier
access and the escalation of misuse. The majority of individuals that
misuse a prescription drug report that they have obtained the drug from
family members or friends. The most deadly consequence of prescription
drug misuse is that highly addictive opioid drugs and other potent
medications end up in the wrong hands. According to the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), youth
and young adults are particularly susceptible to prescription drug misuse
and may in fact obtain these drugs from the family medicine cabinet.
	 The opioid crisis now facing communities across the country can, in
part, be attributed to the increased prescribing of opioid painkillers that
began in the 1990s. With the misuse of opioid drugs reaching epidemic
portions, it became imperative to provide consumer education on safe
medication management practices and to provide options for the safe
disposal of unused drugs. All consumers of prescription drugs have a
responsibility to ensure that their prescriptions do not end up in the
wrong hands. Safe management and disposal of medications can save
lives. Simple guidelines include keeping all prescriptions in a secure place
out of the sight and reach of children and teenagers and never sharing
medications. Most importantly every household must have a plan to
dispose of unused medications.
The safe disposal of medication has become a priority community
concern of the Berks County Office of the District Attorney.
In March 2013, the Berks County District Attorney joined together
with the Council on Chemical Abuse and the Solid Waste Authority
to establish the Berks County Medication Drop Box program.
Twenty-nine drop boxes are now conveniently located in local police
departments across the county. The drop boxes are designed to be
consumer friendly. All types of pharmaceutical medications, including
liquids, are accepted - however, needles are not. Besides protecting
families and the community from the consequences of accidental
or intentional misuse of medications, the safe disposal of medications
decreases water contamination that occurs when pharmaceuticals are
flushed down the drains or improperly placed in landfills.


the response // summer/fall 2018

	 The Berks County Medication Drop Box program has proven
successful in ensuring the proper disposal of medications. This program
also provides an opportunity to educate the community about the
importance of safe medication management. Since the program's
inception, over sixteen tons of unused medications have been placed
in drop boxes by Berks County residents. As the Berks Opioid
Coalition moves forward to respond to the local opioid epidemic, the
medication drop boxes serve as an invaluable resource in keeping our
community safe.

Accepted Items:
Any unwanted or expired medications, both prescription
and over-the-counter, including pet medications and drug
samples. Other items include vitamins, ointments, inhalers,
powders or patch form medications, and even liquid encased
in its original plastic leak-proof container. Please note that
all accepted medications should be in the original container
with personal information blacked out.

Items NOT Accepted:
Any loose pills not in standard container or bag, syringes*,
thermometers, bloody or infectious waste, sunblock, lipstick,
deodorant, skin cream, hydrogen peroxide, cleaning agents
and aerosol cans and medications from businesses.

Over 16 tons of unused
medications have been placed in drop
boxes by Berks County residents.


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