Drug drop-box program deemed success

More than 3,500 pounds of prescription medication avoided polluting waterways or causing overdoses in Chester County last year, said District Attorney Tom Hogan.

West Goshen Township Police Chief Joseph Gleason (from left), state Rep. Becky Corbin, and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan tout the benefits of the drug drop-box program.

West Goshen Township Police Chief Joseph Gleason (from left), state Rep. Becky Corbin, and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan tout the benefits of the drug drop-box program.

Hogan issued a press release to announce that 3,747 pounds of prescription drugs were collected through the Chester County drug drop-box program in 2015. The program places secure boxes in police stations around Chester County so that citizens can safely dispose of prescription medications.

“The Chester County drug drop-box program has been a tremendous success,” Hogan said. “We have safely taken almost two tons of prescription drugs out of circulation. Those are drugs that will never cause a child to overdose or become addicted to opiates. Those are drugs that will never get into our ground water and drinking water. Chester County is proud of this program.”

The drug drop-box program originally was started through a grant from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. More boxes were added later through funding from Pennsylvania American Water.

“Until this initiative was launched, many people didn’t know how to properly dispose of excess pain medications or that it was important to do so,” state Rep. Becky Corbin, R-155, a key early supporter of the program, said in the release. “I am glad the word is getting out and residents are responding. It is important that unused prescription painkillers not be stored in the home.”

The drug drop-boxes work as follows: Citizens can drop off prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications anonymously in the drug drop-boxes, secure receptacles located in police stations or other safe areas. The medication periodically is picked up by members of the Chester County Detectives and disposed of safely.

According to current statistics, approximately 70 percent of the U.S. population will take some type of prescription medication every year. The three most prescribed drugs in the U.S. in order of volume are antibiotics, antidepressants, and opiates, such as oxycodone, the release said.

In the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, the largest drug threat currently comes from prescription drugs and heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. This is the first time in the history of the region that prescription drugs have emerged as the largest threat.

Nationwide, more people are dying from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of any and all illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines. In Chester County, 57 overdose deaths occurred in 2015. Out of these deaths, prescription drugs were involved in 42 of them, the release said.

Opioids, such as oxycodone, now represent the most abused prescription drugs in the country. A few simple statistics show the explosive growth of this class of drugs. In 1998, 11.5 tons of oxycodone were produced worldwide. By 2010, 122.5 tons of oxycodone were produced, with more than 80 percent consumed in the U.S., the release said.

Vince Brown, executive director of Chester County’s Drug and Alcohol Services, stated in the release that the drop-box program has had a significant impact.

“There is a direct link between the availability of prescription medication and the heroin epidemic and overdose deaths we’re facing nationally, in Pennsylvania, and right here in Chester County,” Brown said in the release. “What experts know is that individuals with heroin addictions today are younger and more frequently getting hooked on drugs not on the street, but in the medicine cabinet.”

Hogan said when the program started, he expected to see a gradual decrease in the amount of drugs collected. “Instead, we have seen a steady supply of prescription drugs being collected every month, demonstrating the prevalence of prescription drugs in our society, particularly opioids,” he said in the release. “This program is part of Chester County’s multi-disciplinary approach to fighting the problems caused by drug abuse.”

West Goshen Police Chief Joseph Gleason, one of the participating police departments, agreed, calling the program “an invaluable tool for anyone to contribute to the betterment of society by removing the availability of prescription drugs being put into the wrong hands.”

The drug drop-box locations include the Kennett Square Borough Police Department, 115 N. Broad St., Kennett Square, Pa., 19348; the West Goshen Township Police Department, 1025 Paoli Pike, West Chester, Pa., 19382; the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department, 1041 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, Pa., 19382; and the Sheriff’s Office, Chester County Justice Center, 201 W. Market St., West Chester, Pa., 19380.

 

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