HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of the ongoing effort to curb the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, officials with the Wolf Administration today announced the opening of 65 prescription drug take-back boxes at Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) stations across the commonwealth. State Police Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker was joined by Acting Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Jennifer Smith and other Wolf administration officials at Troop H headquarters in Harrisburg to unveil one of the take-back boxes, which were donated by CVS Health as part of the company's commitment to helping the communities it serves prevent prescription drug abuse and misuse.
The goal of the initiative is to create a safe method for the disposal of expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication. Medicines that languish in home medicine cabinets and other locations are at risk of misuse and abuse.
"PSP stations provide highly visible, well-known locations for prescription drug take-back boxes with lobbies that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Commissioner Blocker. "By combining existing infrastructure with donated collection units, we are able to provide a valuable public health and safety resource to the communities we serve."
In 2016, more than 4,800 Pennsylvanians died from a drug overdose. Facilitating the proper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications is one way state police are working to keep dangerous pills from falling into the wrong hands, said Blocker.
"Providing the public an accessible, safe method to dispose of prescription medicine is a big part of keeping these drugs out of the hands of those who might misuse them," said DDAP Acting Secretary Jennifer Smith. "With the addition of these new prescription drug take-back boxes in the Pennsylvania State Police barracks, we now have almost 680 drug take-back boxes in local law enforcement and other locations."
Smith unveiled a statewide interactive map to help people find the nearest prescription drug take-back box. Since the program began in 2015, the commonwealth has collected and destroyed 301,388 pounds of drugs, she said.
"The proper use, storage, and disposal of unused or unwanted prescription medications are an important part of the battle against this public health crisis," Smith continued. "The fight against the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania is a true team effort. Public-private partnerships and collaboration between the Departments of Health, Human Services, DDAP and law enforcement are critical to preventing and addressing addiction."
CVS Health donated the collection boxes – valued at $685 each – through a partnership with the DDAP. Any solid prescription or over-the-counter medication (pills and capsules) may be anonymously deposited in the secure boxes, including pet medicine. "Sharps" (needles, syringes, EpiPens), liquids, and illicit drugs (heroin, marijuana, LSD, etc.) are not accepted.
"We are proud to partner with the Wolf administration and with the Pennsylvania State Police in providing these 65 units as part of our Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program, which has already facilitated the collection of more than 100 metric tons of unwanted medication across the country," said Nicole Harrington, Senior Director, Pharmacy Services for CVS Health. "Our commitment to safe medication disposal builds on our work to prevent and address drug abuse in the communities we serve by increasing access to naloxone and providing community education to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs."
Contents of the take-back boxes will be safely destroyed on a quarterly basis by the Pennsylvania National Guard. Contents will be weighed, but no identifying information will be recorded or shared.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Ryan Tarkowski, PSP, 717-783-5556
Carol Gifford, DDAP, 717-547-3314
SOURCE Pennsylvania State Police Department