Residents can dispose of their expired or unused prescription and over-the counter medicines during the National Take Back Day drug collection events in Allentown on Saturday, October 28.
The Allentown Health Bureau and the Allentown Police Department will collect medications as part of the 14th National Take Back Day at Giant Supermarket at 3015 W. Emmaus Avenue and Redner’s Warehouse Market on 1201 Airport Rd. from 10am to 2pm. The city agencies are participating in the program in partnership with the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Expired, unused and unwanted medications, including capsules, pills, liquid products, creams in containers and pet medications will be accepted. Syringes with needles and other sharps will not be accepted. This service is free; no identification is necessary and no questions will be asked.
Drug Take Back programs address a vital public safety and public health issue. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Drug overdoses in Pennsylvania have also increased dramatically in recent years and Allentown and the Lehigh Valley are no exception. Prescription drug abuse has quadrupled in the past ten years; it now results in more deaths than all illicit street drugs combined. Almost all prescription drugs involved in overdoses are originally legally prescribed by physicians.
Prescription drug abuse is also growing among adolescents in Pennsylvania. According to a 2011 survey in Pennsylvania, 14 percent of youth surveyed admitted to taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them and 18 percent felt that prescription drugs were not harmful. Additionally, 13 percent of high school-aged children have abused opioid pain relievers, 6 percent tranquilizers, and 12 percent amphetamines. Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.
“Taking the simple step of cleaning out your medicine cabinet of old and unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines can significantly reduce the possibility of an accidental poisoning or intentional misuse by a family member,” said Allentown Health Bureau Injury Prevention Manager David Synnamon.
In addition, citizens are now advised that traditional methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Since the first Take Back day in 2010, more than 11,100 pounds of medication have been collected across Lehigh County.
Persons who are unable to attend the October 28 events are reminded that a permanent collection box is available at the Allentown Police Department’s Patrol Station at 10th & Hamilton streets. The patrol station location is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the station lobby. The one-way collection boxes are bolted to the floor to prohibit removal of the boxes and retrieval of medications from within the boxes without proper authorization. The collected medications are burned in an approved incinerator.