The Ottumwa Courier

April 2, 2014

DEA Take Back program coming to Ottumwa

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Police Department and Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force are partnering with the Drug Enforcement Agency to offer the community a safe and easy way to get rid of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

On April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the Quincy Place Mall, officers will have a table set up and a bin where the public can dispose of unneeded prescription pills. Keep in mind they will not be accepting liquids, needles or sharps, only pills and patches.

Ottumwa Police Sgt. Jason Parmenter said the whole idea of the Take Back event is to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the hands of the wrong people.

“It’s to try to keep these illegal prescription drugs … out of homes so children can’t access them, and it makes it so they can’t be possessed illegally,” he said.

Many times, Parmenter said, prescription drugs are abused if they are just lying around the house, and they are easy targets for curious children and burglars that are hoping to profit by selling them.

The event serves as an easy way to avoid those sticky situations, and it creates an opportunity for anyone who wants to dispose of their unwanted drugs to do so completely anonymously with no questions asked. Parmenter said community members can simply toss the drugs into the bin provided by the DEA and carry on with their day. Then the DEA will take the bin and destroy the drugs properly.

“It’s pretty painless,” Parmenter said.

Simply throwing unwanted pills in the trash is not a safe practice, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, because the pills can easily wind up in the hands of someone who will abuse them.

Instead, the FDA suggests taking old medicines to a Take Back program, grinding up pills and putting them with kitty litter in a plastic bag before throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet or sink.

Last October alone, the DEA was able to obtain 324 tons of prescription drugs at more than 4,114 sites throughout the U.S. That was the eighth time they collected drugs at Take Back events, and so far the DEA and its partners have taken in more than 1,700 tons of pills thanks to the program.

The OPD, DEA and Southeast Iowa Inter-Agency Drug Task Force strongly encourage anyone with unwanted prescription pills to bring them to the Take Back event so the drugs can be disposed of properly. It is a quick and painless way to ensure everyone in the community is safe.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh