U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration personnel were incinerating more than 18 tons of prescription drugs today after residents throughout Northern California disposed of the pharmaceuticals over the weekend.
Dozens of Bay Area law enforcement agencies and medical facilities took part in the DEA’s 7th National Prescription Drug Takeback Day on Saturday, netting part of the 18-plus tons of prescription drugs counted by the agency’s San Francisco field office, according to field office spokesman Karl Nichols.
The drugs were collected at 226 collection sites from Bakersfield to the California-Oregon border, he said.
According to the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, a San Ramon-based non-profit agency, the event allows residents to dispose of prescription medications that are being stored in the home but no longer needed.
In many cases of prescription drug abuse, people become addicted to the pharmaceuticals after raiding the medicine cabinets of their friends and family, according to the organization.
Organization founder and CEO April Rovero said the group’s mission is “help get the word out about locking these medications up.”
Rovero said she founded the local non-profit after losing her 21-year-old son to a prescription drug overdose.
She said about a dozen volunteers from her organization fanned out at drop-off locations throughout the Bay Area on Saturday to hand out educational information to people dropping off unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs.
Residents dropped off bags full of medications at police stations, fire departments and hospitals throughout the region during the four-hour event.
In Concord, police collected more than 197 pounds of prescription drugs on Saturday, which rose slightly from the amount the department received during in April, according to Sgt. Robert Brady.
Like many Bay Area police departments, the Concord Police Department accepts unwanted prescription drugs at its station year-round, he said.
Allowing residents to dispose of the potentially hazardous drugs anonymously “cuts down on the possibility of secondary sales on the street and keeps it out of the hands of children and adolescents that may have access to them,” Brady said.
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