Drug Take Back Day set for April 27

Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.

Art Forgey was not surprised when he heard that Alachua County law enforcement had collected 117 pounds of drug-filled garbage bags -- the amount of prescription drugs collected at the 2012 Alachua County Drug Take Back event.

Forgey, public information officer for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, said Florida is infamous for its pill mills, which dump a lot of prescription drugs into Floridians' hands, and the Drug Take Back is part of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day -- a nationwide initiative that provides a safe way for people to get rid of prescription medications.

On Saturday, April 27, people can bring their unused, expired and unwanted prescription medications to collection sites at Walgreens in Gainesville from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The service is anonymous and free.

Forgey said the problem with readily available drugs got worse because doctor offices would dispense narcotics directly out of their medical offices.

"People were paying cash for large quantities [of prescription medications] and selling them at street level," he said. "Now pharmacies have a narcotics database to regulate doctors who prescribe and sell prescription meds out of clinic."

Jim Myles, an Alachua County Environmental Protection Department senior environmental specialist, said it's common for people to flush old medications down the toilet or to throw them in the trash.

Myles said studies have shown certain medications and the different hormones in them can have negative effects on the reproduction of wildlife, and since flushed drugs do not always break down at water-waste treatment facilities, they can become a hazard in natural settings.

Myles suggests that people drop prescription medications off at Take Back Day or at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center.

Paul Doering, University of Florida emeritus professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research, said incineration is the best way to get rid of drugs because heat breaks medications down into their individual components.

Doering said Drug Take Back events are good because they help keeps drugs off the street and out of the hands of people who would abuse them.

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