The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Got drugs? Rid your home of old medicines

Police reminder that department can dispose of expired prescriptions


Valdez police are hoping to remind people that there is an easy way to rid your home of unneeded and potentially dangerous drugs or expired prescription medications.

While police departments statewide will be participating Saturday in a nationwide campaign to encourage people to clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in old or unneeded medications to law enforcement for proper disposal, Bill Comer, Valdez police chief, said that the local police department has a year-round program people can use anytime to rid their homes of expired or unneeded drugs.

“In Valdez, residents can drop off their expired prescriptions at the Valdez Police Department at anytime,” Comer said in an email Monday.

Valdez police have an incinerator which safely disposes of medicines.

Unused medications can present a number of hazards in the household according to experts, and improper disposal can harm the environment.

A common method of disposing of medications, such as flushing pills down the toilet or pouring down sinks, can make their way into municipal water systems; tossing medicines in the garbage opens up the potential dosing of wildlife in the can or from the landfill.

“Medicines are not removed by sewage treatment facilities or septic tank systems,” a publication distributed by Janine and JoEllen Walters, hosts of the Eagle River take-back program said. “The drugs enter the soil, surface water and ground water. This causes growth and reproductive problems in fish and other aquatic wildlife. Do not flush your old medicines or do not pour your old medicines down the sink.”

Getting rid of old or unneeded medicines - this also applies to pet medications and over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies – also eliminates the possibility of accidently ingesting the wrong medicine in time or need or the possibility the substances will end up in the wrong hands.

“If you accidentally take the wrong medicine, you could be poisoned or have harmful side effects. The elderly, children and pets are particularly susceptible to this,” the publication said. “Theft of medicines is becoming more common. This includes theft by persons in your home who you know, such as a child's friend. This can lead to inappropriate use or identity theft.”

Unfortunately, there is no sanctioned method for Alaskans to donate unexpired but not needed medicines.

“…once a medication has left the pharmacy, there is no control over storage of the medication,” according to the publication. “Therefore, health professionals cannot take the medication back to be given to another person.”


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