Expired, potentially dangerous prescription drugs are being "properly" disposed of once a month after Saturday "prescription take-back" collection events in Oro Valley.
Oro Valley Police Department officers are working with a number of organizations to gather prescription medications that can be illegally abused, or can pollute wastewater. Joining the OVPD are the department's Explorers program, the Oro Valley Optimist Club, Golder Ranch Fire District, Pima County Wastewater, the SOBER Project, the Meth-Free Alliance and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The program is called "Dispose-A-Med Oro Valley." People can clean out their medicine cabinets to get rid of unused and expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. At the March gathering, 65 pounds of medication were collected, along with two buckets full of liquid over-the-counter products that are mixed with cat litter for disposal.
Sgt. Amy Sloane, community resource unit supervisor for the OVPD, said that volume of medications is "something to see.
"It's amazing that that's been saved from getting into kids' hands and the environment," Sloane said.
Some pain medications are selling on the streets for $20 to $40 a pill, Sloane said. "It's so easy for people to get. You can abuse just about anything. It's such a no-brainer for us to jump on and do, and our community is so great at responding to our requests. The community support has been great.
"Most people come up and say 'thank you for doing this. We didn't know what else to do, and there are no other outlets,'" Sloane said.
Liz Wright, spokeswoman for the OVPD, said the collected drugs are turned over to the DEA for incineration.
Names and information on pill bottles are removed and incinerated. The bottles are sanitized, and the cleaned bottles now go to Pima Animal Care, which uses them to hold medications for animal surgeries.
That use came at the suggestion of an animal care volunteer, who asked what happened to the bottles. "We gave her a shopping cart overflowing full of bottles" in March, Sloane said.
OVPD shares crime prevention materials and other information with people who come by the monthly events. "Every month, we add on a little more to our partnerships," Sloane said.
Student pharmacists from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy are available to review and answer questions about medications, and check blood pressure. They work under the supervision of licensed pharmacists.
Dispose-A-Med Oro Valley
Saturday, April 17
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Target, 10555 N. Oracle Road
Another collection is scheduled for Saturday, May 15