October 1, 2010
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and law enforcement partners announced Friday that more than 5000 pounds of drugs – expired or unwanted prescription drugs – were voluntarily turned over to authorities statewide last Saturday.
Saturday was Virginia’s first-ever Drug Take-Back Day, where citizens from communities across the commonwealth dropped off 5182 pounds of unused, unwanted, or expired medications at state police and local law enforcement locations for safe disposal.
It was a collaborative effort by the attorney general’s office, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Virginia’s Secretary of Public Safety, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force, and local law enforcement agencies to prevent prescription drug abuse and to keep trace drugs out of Virginia’s lakes and streams.
The take-back was part of the first DEA-sponsored National Take-Back Day.
Earlier this week, soldiers from the Virginia National Guard picked up the truckloads of medications at the seven different Virginia State Police regional headquarters.
Under DEA escort, the medications were consolidated in Richmond and transported yesterday to an incinerator in Northern Virginia for destruction.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, in one month alone, nearly seven million Americans over age 12 reported abusing prescription medications. Medications are being taken from friends’ and relatives’ medicine cabinets, and abusers are even rummaging through trash to find discarded drugs. We needed a better way to dispose of old prescription drugs,” said Cuccinelli.
The take-back was also an effort to educate the public that disposing of drugs by flushing them or simply throwing them away poses serious problems.
Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove or process many compounds found in medications, so they often end up discharged into surface and ground water.
The contaminants have been shown to cause serious harm to fish and wildlife – and ultimately to humans when they eat wild game or fish.
In the coming weeks, Cuccinelli will debut his office’s multi-agency drug disposal program, which is designed to teach Virginians how to safely store and dispose of prescription drugs between take-back days.
The team, consisting of many of the same players from Saturday’s event, will also create a model protocol to assist localities that want to host take-backs on their own.