Drug return boxes are safe, secure and will help prevent prescription drug and heroin abuse

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 20, 2016) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today launched a pilot program in six Philadelphia Police Districts so anyone can safely and anonymously dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. In addition to a public safety issue, unwanted and unused prescription medications are a public health risk because prescription drug abuse often leads to opiate and heroin abuse.

“Overdoses don’t discriminate based on race, gender or economic status. Prescription drug, opioid and heroin abuse have created victims in all walks of life in our City and throughout our Nation. In fact, the crisis was one of the very first points President Obama mentioned in his recent State of the Union Address,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “I thank all of the partners who are here today and I know all of us are looking forward to bringing drop boxes to every Police District in the City so we can reduce the availability of unwanted prescription drugs and slow the spread of heroin abuse in Philadelphia.”

Philadelphia has the highest rate of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, nearly 42 people per 100,000. There were more than 650 overdose deaths in Philadelphia in 2014 and approximately 370 of those who overdosed had prescription opioids in their system. Heroin was found in the system of more than half of those who overdosed.

“The Philadelphia Police Department is happy to take part in this pilot program, which will provide a safe alternative for disposing of unwanted or expired prescription medications as opposed to them being left in a place where they can fall into the wrong hands,” added Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

“We need to get the word out about the potency of today’s prescription drugs. Too many families have learned the hard way the dangers of not properly securing or disposing of powerful medications,” Council President Clarke said. “I encourage all Philadelphians to audit your medicine cabinets and take advantage of this disposal program – especially if you have kids in the house, or have been touched by drug addiction. And I thank District Attorney Williams and Police Commissioner Ross for their leadership on this critical public health and safety issue.”

The pilot program is beginning with boxes in the 1st, 15th, 19th, 22nd, 25th and 35th; and once concluded and evaluated, it will be expanded into every Police District throughout the City.

“We know, The United States of America, accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, yet we consume 75 percent of prescription drugs in the world. Another fact I find very troubling is that one in five teens have abused prescription medications. In 2010, I introduced a resolution to explore the creation of a drug take back program in Philadelphia. My staff and I commend District Attorney Seth Williams and his team, the Philadelphia Police Department, Bernie Strain and all partners who worked tirelessly to craft a process for citizens to safely dispose of prescription drugs in the City of Philadelphia,” said Councilwoman At-Large Blondell Reynolds Brown.

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) will house the boxes and Philadelphia District Attorney (DAO) County Detectives will collect the medications and transport them to Covanta, which is located in Conshohocken, where they will be burned at no cost. The boxes were made available to the DAO through a grant from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.



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