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Disposing of drugs safely

September 6, 2012
By GARRETT NEESE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - For anyone with expired or unwanted prescription drugs, there are safe ways to store and dispose of them.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is scheduling another National Prescription Drug Take-Back from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29.

Three local law enforcement agencies are taking part in the dropoff:

the Houghton County Sheriff's Office, 403 E. Houghton Ave., Houghton

the Michigan State Police Calumet Post, 55195 N. U.S. 41, Calumet

Ontonagon County Sheriff Office and MSP Detachment, 20146 M-26, Ewen

"This is a very beneficial service," said Portage Health pharmacy director Jason Evans. "It's very good. We don't want people getting into stuff they shouldn't, whether it's accidental or on purpose. Having stuff lying around is not a good idea."

The annual events are held twice a year, the other time in the spring. The April event saw a record 552,161 pounds of medications dropped off at 5,659 sites across the country.

The Houghton County Sheriff's Office also has a permanent drop-off box in its office.

There is also an effort under way to create a nationwide disposal system that would replace the current system of regional networks, which may or may not be working together,

If no drop-off site is available, people are encouraged to mix the uncrushed capsules or tablets with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds. The mixture should then be placed in a sealed container and thrown out with the trash.

That works for most medications. But a few are harmful enough for people to whom they were not prescribed that other methods are required. Those medicines should be disposed of by flushing them down the toilet or sink. So far, no ill effects to human health have been documented from the trace amounts of drugs.

A full list can be found at

Whichever method people choose, they should also take care to black out all personal information on the prescription labels.

There are also commonsense steps people can take at home with the prescriptions they're using to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.

Evans said people should keep their prescriptions in their original containers, with child-proof lids. Medicine should also be kept somewhere out of children's reach.

"Some people may even consider locking them up," he said.

As a parent, Evans said he also makes sure to stress the nature of what's in the bottles.

"Let kids know it's medicine," he said. "It's not candy, it's not play. It's used for specific purposes."



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