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Unwanted medicines begone

PRINCETON — Getting rid of unwanted and expired prescription medicines will be made one step easier with Saturday’s nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back initiative, to held locally in three communities.

Community Partners Against Substance Abuse (CPASA) Chairman Dawn Conerton said Saturday’s program, which is co-sponsored by area law enforcement agencies, has been expanded to include not only the Princeton Police station site, but also to include Walnut Village Hall and the Putnam County Sheriff’s office.

Hours for the Walnut Take-Back day are 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Village Hall, 114 Jackson St. Princeton Police Department hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the police station, located at 605 Elm Place. For people in southern Bureau County and Putnam County, hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, 120 N. Fourth St. in Hennepin.

People can get rid of not only their own unused, expired prescription medicine, but they can also get rid of any pet medication, Conerton said. A drive-by service will be held at each site, so people don’t have to get out of their vehicles, she said.

CPASA started participating in the nationwide program in July 2010, with one collection site at the Princeton Police station. Initiated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, take-back days are held twice a year, typically in the spring and fall. DEA representatives will come to the collection sites to pick the medications and have them incinerated.

Since July 2010, the local take-back effort has collected 1,800 pounds of unwanted medications.

Doria Martuzzo, assistant CPASA program director, said Bureau and Putnam counties are unique because they also have permanent collection boxes, located at Spring Valley Police Department, Princeton Police station, Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, and the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department. People can take their unwanted prescription medicines to those locations throughout the year.

There are a couple reasons why the collection of unwanted medication is so important, Martuzzo said. For one thing, it’s better for the environment, rather than flushing the medications into sewer and water systems. But also, it’s an important way to make sure the unused medicines don’t get into the hands of the wrong person. The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem nationwide, she said.

Conerton agreed, saying the safest way to keep prescription medicines in the home is in a locked box. That way, family members, parents and grandparents don’t become unintentional drug dealers.

According to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Michele Leonhart, the American people have responded overwhelmingly to the national Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Last spring, citizens turned a record 276 tons of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal. All 50 states and U.S. territories are participating in the program with a total of 5,659 take-back sites. Since the program began five years ago, more than 774 tons of medication has been properly collected and removed from circulation, Leonhart said.

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