Police Collect Hundreds of Old Drugs

Ossining residents are glad of the chance to toss unwanted medications legally and in an environmentally sound manner.

Local residents are taking advantage of the chance to safely dispose of unwanted or expired medicines provided by the village and the Ossining Communities That Care Coalition.

They're dumping lots of pill bottles and boxes into the MedReturn Drug Collection Unit, permanently installed inside the Ossining Village Police Department’s front door at 88 Spring Street.

Three full bags of unwanted prescription medications, patches, ointments, drug samples, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and pet medications have been dumped in the collection bin in the past two months, said police Lt. William Sullivan.

The MedReturn bin—it looks like a space-age mailbox—is secure and anonymous. And it's there 24/7 to collect unwanted drugs and make sure they are disposed of properly before they can be misused. 

Many Americans are not aware that unused or expired medicines are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.

Plus, everyone finally realized that the old recommendation for safely disposing of unwanted drugs down the toilet meant the stuff was getting into the nation's water supply. As the Natural Resources Defense Council points out:

Back in the day, we just flushed them away. Then we got the bad news—widespread contamination of streams by pharmaceuticals, according to a 1999-2000 study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Next, we learned from a 2008 investigation by the Associated Press that there were drugs in the drinking water supplies of 41 million Americans.

In New York, the state health department and the USGS tested the source of the city's water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine, antibiotics, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer, according to DisposeMyMeds.org.

It's not legal just to toss them in the trash.

"Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug trend facing our nation," said Alice Joselow of the Communities That Care Coalition. "Ossining had the first take back bin in the county thanks to the Ossining Police who proactively asked the Ossining CTC coalition to purchase the Drug Take Back bin for the Ossining Community.  The bin is well used and we consistently take in over $65,000 worth of drugs at each National Take Back day.  We hope that the Ossining residents will continue to use it year round as well."

Here’s how you can clean out old prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies: 

  • Gather up the unwanted medications in the house. Keep them in the original container if possible. 
  • Take them to the collection box in the front lobby of the Ossining Police Headquarters at 88 Spring St.
  • Make it a semi-annual task: The next time you set your clocks and replace your smoke-detector batteries, clean out your medicine chest and make a drop at the MedReturn. 

The MedReturn Drug Collection Unit is an initiative of the Ossining Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) and the Village of Ossining Police Department. It was funded by a Drug-Free Community grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). CTC is a coalition of concerned individuals and diverse community organizations whose goal is to reduce the use of alcohol and drugs in Ossining and prevent underage drinking. 

To learn more about safe disposal of medicines, visit http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm

To learn more about prescription drug abuse, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/prescription-drug-abuse

To learn more about Ossining Communities That Care Coalition, visit www.ossiningctc.org

To learn more about the affects of medications on the environment, see disposemymeds.org.


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