Program allows safe and anonymous disposal of prescription drugs

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams launched a pilot program on Jan. 20 in six city police districts so that anyone can safely and anonymously dispose of unwanted or out-of-date prescription drugs, which pose a public health risk due to their often addictive nature and potential for abuse.

The pilot program provides for drop-off boxes in the police stations of the 1st, 15th, 19th, 22nd, 25th and 35th districts. Once the pilot phase is concluded, the program will be expanded into every police district in the city. County detectives from the District Attorney’s Office will collect the medications and transport them to Covanta, a Conshohocken waste-to-energy plant that will burn the medications at no cost to taxpayers. A grant to the DA’s office from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency funded the purchase of the deposit boxes.

Disposing of unwanted or out-of-date medications may seem like a simple thing to do on your own, but many Philadelphians apparently are not getting the message.

The city has the highest annual rate of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, nearly 42 people per 100,000. There were more than 650 overdose deaths in the city in 2014, about 370 of which involved the use of prescription opioids. Heroin was found in more than half of those who overdosed. Prescription opioid abuse can lead to addiction and heroin abuse.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross, City Council President Darrell Clarke and Councilwoman at-large Blondell Reynolds Brown each endorsed the pilot program. ••