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Springville to gain permanent drug drop-off

SPRINGVILLE — During the fifth annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., collection sites at hospitals, drugstores, police departments and other locations will accept unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs, in an effort to keep these medications off the streets and out of minors’ hands. For Springville, this initiative comes in advance of a permanent, dedicated drop-off site, to be located right in the village.

The Take Back Day initiative has grown, each year, since its inception. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, 244 tons of prescription drugs were turned in, at more than 5,200 national sites, last year. In its five, previous drop-off events, the DEA and its partners took in more than 2 million pounds of pills. Locally, Bertrand Chaffee Hospital will be accepting medications, on that day.

DEA Resident Agent in Charge Dale Kasprzyk, of Buffalo, said that all types of medications are collected at these events, including the highly addictive Schedule II painkillers, such as oxycodone, fentanyl and hydromorphone and Schedule III painkillers, such as Vicodin and Suboxone®, which are officially classified as being less physically addictive, but can still lead to psychological addiction.

“We also receive non-controls, like expired pharmaceuticals,” Kasprzyk said. “Expired meds, even if they’re not controlled, can be a danger. Please don’t leave those in your house. Bring them to us, so we can destroy them.”

The DEA’s take back events came about as a result of the prescription drug abuse prevention strategy, released in 2011 by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Other strategies included in that policy are education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.

Shortly after the first take back day event, two years ago, Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the Controlled Substances Act, to allow the DEA to develop permanent, ongoing and responsible methods for disposal.

The DEA, with local sheriff’s departments, has been working to set up those methods, ever since, and this year, Springville will receive a drop-off box for residents to unload their unwanted medications.

“We teamed up with the Erie County Sheriff Department, which has been a wonderful partner, as we try to give people a place to take these medications,” Kasprzyk said. The DEA, with the sheriff’s department, is working to set up drop-off boxes in Springville, Elma and Grand Island, with possible drop-off spots in Hamburg and Depew, as well.

“We want to hit the four corners of the county: south, north, east and west,” the DEA agent added. “These locations are a great start, for us. We’ve come a long way, in our efforts to get these dangerous medications off the streets. Now, we’re just trying to push it out and get it in place. This is great, for the communities.”

Undersheriff Mark Wipperman said that the boxes should be in place, during the month of May, with boxes located in Springville and Grand Island to be in place, as early as the week of April 29.

“It’s been in the works for a couple of months,” Wipperman said. “We sat down [with the DEA] and brainstormed and thought that, [because] these drop-off days are so popular, we should do more and approach the individual towns, to give people the opportunity to have a place to go and drop off these drugs, no questions asked.”

Wipperman said that the anonymity and dedicated location of these boxes will enable residents to feel comfortable dropping off medications, all year long.

“We want to get people in the habit. People have surgery, 12 months a year. Maybe they don’t use up all of their medication,” he explained. “Now, they can drive on down to one of these towns and safely dispose of these medications, that can be dangerous, if left in the medicine cabinet, no questions asked.”

According to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 6 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. Kasprzyk said that the Springville area is no exception.

The agent added that one reason he feels so strongly about his office’s efforts to collect prescription medications is because of their high incidence of abuse, across the county, as well as where these drugs are being obtained, most of the time.

Intelligence analysts from the DEA interviewed prescription drug abuse patients at local treatment centers, to find out how they first obtained the medications.

“More than three-quarters said they got them from the homes of family members or friends. Often, [they got them] from their own homes, from parents or grandparents,” Kasprzyk said. “These are young and old people, all ages,” Kasprzyk said. “It doesn’t discriminate. I think this really validates our efforts and it’s why I, for one, feel so strongly about this project.”

He added that the drop-off box, which will be located at the Erie County Sheriff’s substation in Springville, will be a locked, guarded box, where residents can drop medications, 24/7.

“Maybe you’ve got a grandparent who was on some medications who passed away. You find these meds and know they could be dangerous,” Kasprzyk explained. “Now, with this new program, you won’t have to hold onto them until the next Drop-Off Day. You can just drop them in the box and be rid of it.”

The DEA agent noted that there have been some spikes in prescription medication abuse in the Springville area and that he hopes the drop-off box will give residents the opportunity to help curb that trend.

“It’s going to checked frequently, and be a secure place for these dangerous drugs,” he added. “I’m really, really excited for this. It’s a great thing, for Springville.”

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will take place on April 27, in advance of the permanent box’s installation in Springville. For more information, visit www.dea.gov.
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