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Dispose of Old and Unused Prescription Drugs on Oct. 26

October 16, 2013, 11:32 AM HST
* Updated October 16, 5:07 PM
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Keeping old or unused narcotics out of the wrong hands as well as the environment is the mission of 7th National Take Back Initiative planned statewide for Saturday, Oct. 26.

State and federal agencies are providing the opportunity for the public to safely dispose of all solid dosage forms of prescription drugs. New or used needles or syringes will not be accepted.

The service is free and anonymous – no questions asked.

Organizers of the event noted that a large percentage of people abusing prescription drugs obtain them from friends and relatives, often by raiding the family medicine cabinet.

Children and the elderly are also vulnerable to accidental poisoning by left-over prescriptions.

And throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet carries the environmental risks of drugs entering groundwater supplies or harming aquatic life.

Researchers have found traces of pharmaceutical drugs in the drinking water supplies of 40 million Americans. Also, a nationwide study conducted by the US Geological Survey in 1999 and 2000 found low levels of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids – in 80% of the rivers and streams sampled.

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., members of the public can turn in unneeded prescription medications at two Big Island sites: in Hilo at the Army Aviation Support Facility (adjacent to Civil Air Patrol) at 1095 Kekuanao‘a Street, and in Kailua-Kona at the Kealakehe Police Station parking lot at 74-611 Hale Maka‘i Place.

The drugs will be incinerated according to federal and state environmental guidelines.

Illicit substances such as marijuana and methamphetamine are not part of this initiative.

The program is a joint effort of the state Department of the Attorney General, US Drug Enforcement Administration and the Hawaii Department of Public Safety.

Since September 2010, nearly 5.5 tons of expired and unused prescription medications have been collected in Take Back programs in Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands. That included  1,330 pounds collected throughout the state in the most recent event held in April when 371 tons were disposed of nationwide.

For more information about the drug take-back program, visit here.

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