RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office on Saturday hosted a special Drug Take Back Day in Scioto County, with assistance from Kroger, Cardinal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, the Portsmouth Police Department, the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, and the Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office.
“Drug Take Back Days are a very important part of the prescription drug epidemic, trying to tackle the problems associated with it. Most drugs that are diverted out onto the streets come from people’s medicine cabinets and usually they are drugs that have been stored for a while that people aren’t using, and our teenagers and children get into those and are using them that way. Or they end up in the schools being handed out,” said Special Prosecutor and Ohio Drug Czar Aaron Haslam.
Portsmouth police officers were collecting the unwanted pills at Portsmouth Kroger, and officers from the Scioto County Sheriff’s were collecting at Kroger in Wheelersburg. At each of the sites, people were invited to drop off their old, unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication — no questions asked. Most simply drove up to the drop-off site in the parking lot, handed the officers their medication and then drove away.
Creams, liquids, and syringes were not accepted. Pills were dumped into large bags, and were removed and safely disposed by officers from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations and the Attorney General’s office.
“We’re giving people an opportunity to dispose of their unwanted, unneeded, unused medications to get it off the street and get it out of people’s medicine cabinet and hopefully eliminate the surplus of these things out there,” said Special Prosecutor Matt Donahue from the Ohio Attorney General Office.
Donahue said there are already two National Drug Take Back days each year, in April and October. The event on Saturday was a special event just for Scioto County. Franklin County also had a Take Back Day on Saturday, and Perry County had one a few months ago.
“Obviously you guys were Ground Zero, but a lot of other places have been greatly affected too,” he said.
Kroger pharmacist Bill Sheridan said people try to give him their unwanted medications all the time, but he can’t legally accept them.
“So what do you do with it? You don’t want to put it down into the sewer, because of the environment. The only way you can really get rid of it is to have a take back day. Drug abuse is the second largest cause of death in the United States right now, and not always because they want to get high or abuse it. Sometimes they’re using someone else’s medication that they might not have thought would harm them. It’s hard to tell people that just because you’ve got a cold (other people’s medicine) doesn’t work for someone else,” Sheridan said.
Jodi Giles of Boehringer Ingelheim — a pharmaceuticals manufacturer in Reynoldsburg, Ohio — provided financial support to help Kroger and Drug Take Back Day get drugs off the streets.
“We want to be sure that the drugs that we make get to the patients that need them the most. That’s the biggest concerns with what we do. Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic and we want to help support getting drugs out of peoples’ cabinets,” Giles said.
Donahue said the last local Drug Take Back Day netted more than 100 pounds of medication, and he hoped to either meet or surpass that mark this weekend.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is also sponsoring a new program to establish a permanent drop box location at 75 selected sites across the state.
“As important as Drug Take Back days are, what we’d like to do is make it an everyday things, so you won’t have to wait every six months, or three months. It can be done everyday at your local police department,” Haslam said.
Scioto County has applied to receive a permanent drug drop box, but no determination has been made.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.