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New prescription drug drop box met with enthusiasm

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Local health officials are enthusiastic about a new drop box at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, 753 Waterman Drive, that will help residents dispose of unused medications, including prescription painkillers.

The issue had been a source of frustration for several months, as most local pharmacies could not regularly accept most medications for disposal, citing costs and limited security. On the law enforcement end, there were questions of how a drop box would be supervised.

Anita K. Seefried-Brown, program director of the Jefferson County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council, said the program would help prevent drug-related thefts and accidental overdoses and limit the amount of products put into local water sources or landfills.

“It keeps everybody safe, and the landfill safe,” she said, at a Tuesday afternoon meeting of a community work group dedicated to preventing prescription drug abuse.

In a news release sent out Tuesday, Sheriff John P. Burns announced a prescription drop box had been installed in a secure portion of the building’s lobby, and will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The drop box will accept prescription medications, including controlled substances, prescription patches, ointments, vitamins, drug samples, over-the-counter medications and veterinary medications. The release asked that all medications be placed in a clear plastic bag before being placed in the drop box.

Lt. Kevin M. Amann, of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, said medications will be disposed of in a similar fashion to items found at crime scenes.

The department’s news release notes the drop box will not accept thermometers, aerosol sprays, inhalers, hydrogen peroxide or syringes.

The release said people with syringes to dispose of should do so at the pharmacy of their choice, where they can receive a container for disposal. Samaritan Medical Center also can accept syringes that are sealed in a hard plastic container at the rear entrance of its Sherman Street facility,

At the community work group’s meeting, members heard concerns about a new generic form of powerful painkiller OxyContin that recently was permitted in Canada and could be trafficked across the border. The pill is considered not to be abuse resistant.

“Just when you think you’ve plugged one hole up, another hole pops up,” said Armond Scipione, law enforcement coordination manager for the U.S. Department of Justice for the northern district of New York.

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