Image: Vince Fratiani
Hamburg, NY - Pharmaceutical drugs can be a life saver for millions of Americans, but often times these same drugs fall into the wrong hands.
On Saturday the Drug Enforcement Agency was out once again collecting all types of medicines from people who no longer wanted them in their homes during the 4th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The collection of these pharmaceutical drugs involved no questions being asked.
The parking lot of one car care center in Hamburg was turned into a prescription drug drop-off site for a few hours. Volunteers joined the DEA to collect everything from unused syringes, to thousands of pills that are no longer needed.
Another group of volunteers separated and cataloged the drugs that came in. Local pharmacist Heather Derck gave 2 On Your Side a quick update a few hours after the drug drop-off began.
"We've had over 125 cars come through. We've got probably 10 to 12 full boxes," said Derck.
DEA Group Supervisor Dale Schick explained what what will happen to these drugs.
"They're amassed into one large quantity and they're trucked up to Covanta up in Niagara County. They'll go into a kiln where they're burned into ash," said Schick.
After the drugs are incinerated Schick said the ashes will go a landfill to be properly disposed of, and kept out of our underground water system.
The total amount of drugs collected on Saturday here in Western New York isn't available just yet. Last year local residents turned in more than 10 tons of prescription drugs.
"Prescription drug abuse is a major epidemic across the country and DEA is committed to reducing the potential for misuse by providing a safe and secure method for Americans to clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of unwanted, unneeded, or expired medication," said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. "Americans responded overwhelmingly to DEA's first three Take-Back Day events, disposing of nearly 500 tons of medication in the past two years. This nationwide community effort prevents home medicine cabinets from becoming sources of dangerous - and even deadly - drugs."
U.S. Attorney William Hochul added, "Such events allow for the proper disposal of pills which could otherwise end up in the wrong hands. When used as prescribed by a doctor, prescription pills can provide a great benefit but when misused, they can be dangerous and possibly deadly."
US Attorney's WNY office