The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 13, 2014

Safe pill disposal offered

SOMERSET — Keeping unused old prescription and over-the-counter medicines at a residence can be dangerous.

Taking them can be risky, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Addicts often consider them easy targets to steal. Also, the pills can pollute groundwater if people flush them down toilets or dissolve them in sinks.

In response, Somerset County law enforcement officials recently have taken a step to help residents dispose of the medicines before they can cause any problems.

On Monday, District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser and Somerset Borough police Chief Randy Cox displayed a MedReturn drop-off box that has been installed inside the borough’s public safety building located at 340 W. Union St.

“This is a way to get them out of your house in a safe and efficient manner,” said Lazzari-Strasiser.

Individuals can drop off prescriptions, vitamins and medicines for pets. All will be destroyed by an officer from the district attorney’s office.

Some other items, such as inhalers, needles and hydrogen peroxide, are not permitted.

All of the accepted and unaccepted products are listed on the front of the box. Drop-offs can be made whenever the building is open.

“Even though it’s in a police station lobby, this is a totally anonymous process,” said Cox.

“Anyone coming to use the box, no one is going to be confronted to see what they have or where they got it or why they have it. They’re just going to be able to walk into the building into the lobby, deposit their pharmaceuticals in the box and just walk away. No one will ever be confronted or questioned about anything.”

Somerset County received the box as part of a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency program. The organization is funding the project through a $100,000 federal grant.

Lazzari-Strasiser hopes the county can acquire more boxes in the future.

“I would see that we will probably put in for a couple more boxes by next fall,” she said.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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