EPD, ETSU sponsor drug disposal event

Published 10:21 am Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Elizabethton Police Department is joining forces with East Tennessee State University to help give residents an opportunity to safely dispose of old medications.

On Saturday, April 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the police department and ETSU’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy will sponsor a medication take back event at the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, located at 500 Veterans Memorial Parkway (Highway 19-E) in Elizabethton.

This event will provide the public with a chance to help prevent prescription medication abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs, said EPD Sgt. Willard Johnson.

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The police department has held events such as this in the past as part of a partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA held its first Prescription Drug Take-Back event in September 2010 in response to the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act signed that same year. The act created a way for patients, caregivers and pet owners to dispose of controlled substances medications – such as painkillers, sedatives and stimulants – in a safe and secure manner.

Prior to creating a way for the public to dispose of the medications, people were simply throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet, Johnson said, adding that flushing medications is now considered an unacceptable disposal method. In recent years tests have shown traces of prescription medications can show up in the water supply, he added.

After creating the events, the DEA has stepped back from the collections. Because the service is still needed, the Elizabethton Police Department developed a new partnership to keep the program going, Johnson said.

“One big change now is that it’s not sponsored by the DEA anymore,” Johnson said. “This is being coordinated through the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and ETSU. The DEA will no longer be holding these events.”

In addition to holding prescription take back events, the police department also has a drop box in the lobby.

The event is free and anonymous, and Johnson said no questions will be asked.

Any medications — such as pills, liquids and patches — are accepted, but the program does not accept any kinds of sharp objects such as syringes or lancets, Johnson said. The medications do not need to be in their proper containers and can be brought to the disposal site in a bag, box, plastic container or any other way to safely transport the items.