Wake County Human Services announced Tuesday that it has become the first public health department in the state to install a drop-off box for unwanted, unused and expired medicine.
Program manager Sonya Reid told county commissioners that offering safe pill disposal will decrease accidental poisonings in small children and drug overdoses. The drop boxes also are intended to deter flushing pills down the toilet, which can contaminate water supplies.
Reid emphasized that the box is a “no-questions, no-judgment zone” for disposing prescription and over-the-counter medication.
Traditionally, drug take-back programs have been run through law enforcement facilities, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration amended regulations in 2014 to allow health centers to participate.
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Reid also reported on the Operation Medicine Drop event held in October that sparked the box’s installation in December. In four hours, staff members received 28,377 prescription pills with an estimated value of $54,163. They also collected three 30-pound boxes of over-the-counter medication.
Reid called the event, a collaboration between Wake County Human Services and the sheriff’s office, “a wonderful partnership in addressing the need for proper collection and disposal.” Although it was first time the two departments had worked together, Reid hopes to maintain their relationship through other initiatives.
The new lime green drop box is on the first floor of the Wake County Human Services’ Public Health Center off Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh, across from the pharmacy. Other drop-off locations include the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and police stations in Cary, Garner, Wake Forest and Holly Springs.
For those who cannot drop their pills at one of the boxes, county pharmacist Jennifer Wright recommended mixing them with an “undesirable substance” such as cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealed container before discarding them in the trash.
Wake County medicine drops
▪ Cary Police Department, 120 Wilkinson Ave.
▪ Garner Police Department, 900 Seventh Ave.
▪ Holly Springs Police Department, 110 West Ballentine St.
▪ Wake County Human Services’ Public Health Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh
▪ Wake County Law Enforcement Training Center, 2300 Law Enforcement Drive, Raleigh
▪ Wake County Sheriff’s Department lobby, 330 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh
▪ Wake Forest Police Substation, 221 S. Brooks St.