By NATHAN GREGORY
Residents wishing to dispose of unused medication had the opportunity to do so Saturday.
Representatives from Mississippi State University were on hand in front of Piggly Wiggly on Highway 12 to take expired medication and answer questions about unused medication disposal.
The event was held in participation with a nationwide event called the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
According to DEA statistics, more than 377,086 pounds (or 188.5) tons of unwanted or expired medication was turned in for proper disposal at the organization’s last Take-Back Day held on Oct. 29, 2011. Nearly 4,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement and community partners participate in the event, which is held twice a year.
Once the DEA collects all the disposed mediation, it is destroyed.
Amy Schmidt, water quality specialist with the MSU Extension Service, said safe disposal of medication solves many potential problems at once.
“We’re actually going at it from two perspectives. From the law enforcement perspective, it gets those prescription medications out of your medicine cabinet where they could be abused. Kids could get a hold of them and abuse those medications,” she said. “From an environmental perspective, we don’t want people dumping their pills in the toilet or pouring liquids down the drain and getting them into the water supply. Treatment plans aren’t designed to take that material out when the water is treated, so then it gets discharged into a stream or ends up in ground or surface water.”
MSU Police Department Sgt. Virginia Rich also helped with the drug disposal.
“Nationally, (DEA) has to come up with a way for proper disposal, which they’re working on. That’s the reason we have these events,” she said. “We’re here twice a year doing what other people are doing all over the nation today.”
DEA administrator Michel Leonhart said in a release that safe disposal of unused medication at all the participating locations helps reduce their misuse.
“The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during the past three Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” Leonhart said. “DEA remains hard at work to establish just such a drug disposal process, and will continue to offer take-back opportunity until the proper regulations are in place.”