Officials encourage residents to drop unused medication off at police station

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(THE PICKET) – Area residents are encouraged by the Shepherdstown Police Department to bring their unwanted prescription drugs to the station on 104 N. King Street for disposal.

The extra effort will protect Shepherdstown’s water supply, said Sgt. Mike King, acting chief of the Shepherdstown Police Department.

Every year on Sept. 26, the Drug Enforcement Administration organizes a national prescription drug take-back day. In Shepherdstown, there is a drop off box for old or unneeded prescription medicine in the police department, which is in the station every day.

On national take-back day, the DEA disposes of the drugs, but usually the police department incinerates them, King said.

“The problem before we obtained the drug disposal box was that there wasn’t a place to safely dispose of the old or outdated medication. I am told that flushing the medicine can and will leave traces in the water which has a huge potential for affecting the natural resources and our water supply,” King said.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, there are drugs in the drinking water of over 40 million Americans because water treatment plants don’t usually screen or treat water for drugs. Otherwise, there isn’t much information about the effects on people or wildlife.

Keeping old medicine in cabinets or drawers isn’t a better alternative either, according to King. “Disposing of the old prescription medicines can reduce the chance of an accidental ingestion by a child or another person mistakenly taking the medication. As well, outdated medication may not perform as originally intended and should not be taken,” King said.

Since the drug take-back is still a new program, King is unsure of the effects it is having on the community. However, he assumes there have been improvements since so many outdated medications have been dropped off.

“This is a service to the community that is important to all. We are glad that we can assist in this,” King said.

Megan Hughart is a staff writer for The Picket. She can be reached at mhugha01@rams.shepherd.edu or on Twitter @iimeggyjo.