On Saturday, Sept. 27, the New College/University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus Police participated as a collector in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This was the DEA’s ninth and final event in an effort to spread the opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted prescription medications.
The Herald Tribune reported this April that Sarasota County holds the eleventh highest prescription drug death rate in the state of Florida. Drug Take Back events and similar programs throughout the area are expanding in order to make homes and the people in them safer. Since 2009, Sarasota County has acquired 4,300 pounds of prescription medication.
“We agreed to take on a role, we do it, turn it over and people seem to like it, I think we’re more convenient than people to have to go downtown, to the sheriff’s office,” Lieutenant John Tully said.
This year, Campus Police took in around 15 to 20 pounds of material, which is comparable to previous take-backs.
“The only thing they [DEA] ask of us is what was the approximate total weight,” Tully said.
However, Campus Police did not just collect pharmaceuticals. “Not everything is pills a lot of times, we take anything except liquids and sharps,” Tully said. “Anything people have laying around that they don’t want.”
The DEA sponsors the entire national endeavor. “We actually have a DEA agent come in and collect the drugs after the take back is completed,” Tully said.
According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of reported prescription drug abusers dropped. However, that is still twice the number of heroin, cocaine and hallucinogens users combined. The Center for Disease Control reported that in 2011, 22,134 people died in the United States from prescription medication overdoses. Most of the medication is unused from family and friends.
As a response, last April’s National Take Back Day received 390 tons of prescription drugs nationwide, a percentage of the 2,100 tons obtained since the first event in Sept. 2010.
The Disposal of Controlled Substances final rule addition to the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 was published Sept. 9, 2014. According to the DEA Office of Diversion Control, the act is “an effort to curtail prescription drug abuse by authorizing regulations that outline methods for ultimate users to dispose of their unused or unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances.”
This final rule is expanding the number of collection locations, including hospitals and clinics with an on-site pharmacy, retail pharmacies and narcotic treatment programs. In order to become an official drop-off site, the location needs to modify their registration with the DEA. These places can have a collection receptacle or, if they do not possess an on-site means of destruction, a mail-back program. The final rule is eliminating the need for another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day because the service will ideally be constantly available in communities.
This leaves the future of Campus Police’s role in this campaign uncertain.
“I don’t know if you’re really going to see any of these drug take backs sponsored by DEA anymore, so I’m not sure where we go from here,” Tully said. “It’s going to be new to us as well.”
Information for this article was taken from http://video.heraldtribune.com/video/3504727223001#gsc.tab=0, http://www.justice.gov/dea/divisions/hq/2014/hq092314.shtml, and http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.