PHOENIX, NY – While National Prescription Take-Back Day (April 29) serves as a pressing reminder, the MedSafe medication disposal service in Phoenix operates daily to lessen the availability of unused prescription medications.
Located at the Medicine Place pharmacy at 464 Main Street, the MedSafe disposal box has been established in the Phoenix community for nearly a year.
It serves to allow Phoenix and neighboring community residents the opportunity to safely and anonymously deposit any unused prescription medication at any time for safe disposal.
Every four months, the box has been emptied and the contents are packaged in a tamper resistant shipping container and sent to be properly disposed of “using the DEA-preferred method of disposal, incineration, rendering the pharmaceuticals non-retrievable.”
In the first four months, the box collected roughly 40 pounds of unused medication. Most recently, the box was emptied in February (2017) at which time the MedSafe box recorded more than 50 pounds of medication collected.
“It’s valuable, because it doesn’t have to be a set day to take back unused prescriptions,” said Phoenix Police Chief, Marty Nerber.
In fact, anyone can dispose of their unused prescriptions at the MedSafe box any time the Medicine Place pharmacy is open, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The MedSafe box accepts any unused medications with the exception of sharps, liquids of more than 4 ounces, aerosols, medical devices, batteries, chemicals, hazardous materials, and illegal drugs, pharmacist Tony Grosso explained.
“It’s really important because people utilize it. Many households have access to dangerous opioids or other drugs right in their medicine cabinet. This keeps them out of the hands of children or people that they don’t belong to and potentially keeps them off our streets,” Chief Nerber explained.
One of the biggest issues the department sees according to Nerber, is people receiving a large prescription quantity and only using a few of the pills, leaving the rest of the medication unused and likely unnecessary in the house.
This raises the probability of dangerous medication falling into the hands of someone they were not intended for to be consumed or distributed. The MedSafe disposal box plays a part in preventing that from happening, he said.
“It’s a very good thing for (the pharmacy) to do that benefits our whole community,” Nerber said.
The MedSafe disposal box was made possible as part of a collaboration between community groups.
The Phoenix support group, H.O.P.E. (Heroin Opioid Prevention Education) meets every third Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Sweet Memorial Building to offer addiction support and education to members of the public.
Last year, the H.O.P.E group hosted a community forum that brought together a panel of local specialists with diverse backgrounds to share their knowledge surrounding addiction and create a dialogue with the public.
Dave Dingman, pharmacist at the Medicine Place in Phoenix, was an active part of the panel.
“We invited Mr. Dingman to participate not only as a concerned community member, but also to participate and provide his valuable perspective as a business owner and pharmacist. During the forum and questions from our audience we noticed a trend that locally, we did not have an adequate solution for the disposal of unused prescriptions,” the H.O.P.E group vice-president, Savannah Jaquay said.
With that understanding, Dingman began looking for a solution to provide the community with a resource to safely rid themselves of unused medications.
“Through Dave (Dingman’s) participation and commitment to providing a constructive solution, he researched the policies and criteria for housing the MedSafe box to provide a tangible resource for the community he lives in, works in, and loves, to properly and safely dispose of their unused medications, decreasing the risk for accidental poisoning and the development of addiction for all age groups/backgrounds within our community,” Jaquay said.
Data showing that 80 percent of heroin users admit that their addiction began with abuse of prescription medication, when coupled with the reality of the abundance of left over medication that can be found in any given household, has proven that the MedSafe disposal box is an invaluable resource for the community, she added.
“We are grateful to Dave (Dingman) for his continued commitment and contribution to our collaborative mission, and look forward to more opportunities to work with him, our local law enforcement and our residents to keep providing them with tangible solutions. This not only is a win for Phoenix, but for our county, we are now seeing additional drop off sites popping up since the conversation has broadened and spread,” Jaquay said.
One of those additional drop off sites in the county can be found in the city of Oswego.
The Oswego City Police Department located at 169 W. Second St. is host to a 24/7 secure medication drop box provided by Farnham Family Services and the Coalition to Combat Adolescent Substance Abuse in Oswego County as funded through a grant from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation.
The drop box allows Oswego residents the same conveniences of the Phoenix MedSafe disposal box, with the added bonus of 24 hour access in the lobby of the Police Department.
All deposits are made anonymously with no questions asked. Click here to see more details regarding allowable contents in the Oswego medication drop box.
In an effort to provide these services to the Fulton community, the Fulton Police Department will participate in the nationwide effort associated with National Prescription Take Back Day.
The Fulton Police Department will be accepting any expired, unwanted, or unused prescription medications with the exception of any liquids, needles, or sharps.
The free, anonymous service will be available from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on April 29 as departments and agencies nationwide will crack down on their effort to safely remove dispose of prescription medications.
“I think resources like the MedSafe box and organized prescription take backs are so important to our communities because the heroin and opioid epidemic is a multifaceted problem with so many questions and not enough answers, or not enough solutions,” Jaquay said.