Watonwan County and the city of St. James have come together to help curb prescription drug abuse in the area.
Beginning April 27, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. the two departments will begin collecting expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal. Past the April 27 timeline, a drop box will be available for all unwanted prescription drugs at a recently purchased drop box located at the dispatch center 715 Third Ave. S, St. James.
The need for a prescription drug drop box has been growing for awhile, says St. James Police Chief Mark Carvatt. People have been coming to officers wondering what to do with prescription medications.
The drop box allows for individuals to drop off any prescription drug – with the exception of needles and syringes – any day, any time, no questions asked. The drop box is also available for any expired drug – such as a cough or cold medicine that is currently past its expiration date.
Though Carvatt explained that the problem of prescription drug abuse isn’t rampant in the county, it is still of concern. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are staggeringly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. MPCA studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, taken from the home medicine cabinet.
Drugs that are left in the medicine cabinet can be a danger to your family, but improperly disposed of medications can be a danger to the community as a whole.
Individuals who are unsure how to properly dispose of their unused and unwanted prescription drugs will often flush them down the toilet – but this can be a problem for the entire community, says Wastewater Superintendent Steve Carson.
“For one, it’s illegal,” says Carson. “Prescriptions flushed do not settle out in water from the surface. It can get into fish which we can then ingest.”
It is also possible for medications that are improperly disposed of to end up in our drinking water, according to a MPCA study.
After the prescription drugs are collected Saturday, April 27, they will be brought to Red Wing to be incinerated. The only cost to the city for this program is driving time, and the initial $600 for the actual prescription drop box. A small price to pay, says Carvatt, for safety.
April 27, is a good time for any person in the community to clean out their medicine cabinet and properly dispose of unused and expired drugs.
“Prescriptions tossed in the trash may not get to the dump,” says Carvatt. “This is a better way of doing it.”
Pharmacists warn that prescription and non-prescription drugs should not be taken past their expiration date. Drugs are only meant to last until the labelled date, past that point they can break down chemically – or may not be potent enough to treat a problematic condition.
Page 2 of 2 - Anyone with questions regarding the prescription drug drop box are advised to call Chief Deputy Jeremy Nachreiner at 507-375-2584.