The Bridgeville police station may be getting a “drug take back” box where residents can dispose of unused prescription medications, Mayor Betty Copeland told council last week.
Police departments in South Fayette, Mt. Lebanon, and some other nearby communities have similar programs.
The drug dropbox programs are designed to serve several goals:
- Reduce the amount of legally prescribed narcotics that get diverted for illegal sale or consumption
- Reduce accidental poisonings—especially by children—from unused or expired drug stored around the house
- Reduce the amount of prescription chemicals that enter the environment, especially via flushing.
State-wide, drug take-back boxes resulted in 19,000 pounds of prescription pharmaceuticals being destroyed by authorities, according to the PA Dept. of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
But the whether the boxes help prevent grandma’s pain medication being sold on the streets is less clear.
A study in Kentucky found that only 0.3% of the opioids prescribed in the region ever made their way back to a take-back box.
A separate study of a medication take-back event in Wisconsin found that the opioid prescriptions collected still had 73% of the pills unused, which suggests that doctors are overprescribing or patients may have been saving the pills.
Another research team concluded that permanent take-back boxes are more effective is smaller communities—areas with populations of less than 10,000 residents—than in larger cities.
The effect of take-back boxes on the environment are still unclear.
In any case, installing a box at the Bridgeville police station might be a low-cost way to at least try to get some unneeded prescriptions out of people’s houses.