|The Medication Disposal project held its second event on April 30th at the Muskegon Fire Department, with the best turnout to date with over 200 participants who turned in 706 pounds of medications, of that 89 were controlled medications.
Muskegon rallies to support drug disposal program
propelling it into a second year
Published: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 6:12 AM
Updated: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 8:53 AM
By Dave Alexander | Muskegon Chronicle
MUSKEGON — On the street, a Muskegon man could have gotten about $4,500 for a drug his wife took for narcolepsy before she died.
Ken Stevens | The Muskegon Chronicle
MUSKEGON AREA MEDICATION DISPOSAL PROGRAM
- Second-year drop off events begin Saturday at the Fruitport Township Fire Station, 5815 Airline, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Citizens can dispose of prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, ointments, sprays, inhalers, creams, pet medications and needles.
- Items that cannot be taken to the drop-off events are illegal drugs, biohazardous materials, household wastes and personal care items.
- Other drop-off events are scheduled April 30 at the Muskegon Central Fire Station, June 18 at the Dalton Township Fire Station on Riley Thompson Road and Oct. 8 at the Norton Shores Fire Station on Pontaluna Road.
- During business hours, non-prescription and over-the-counter medicines can be dispose of at Glenside Pharmacy, 1663 W. Sherman, Hackley Professional Pharmacy, 1675 Leahy, Lakes Campus Pharmacy, 6401 Prairie, Westshore Professional Pharmacy, 1150 E. Sherman, Wolf Lake Pharmacy, 5483 E. Apple and Benson Drug Co., 961 Spring.
The program volunteers are back again with the second year of the program, which begins from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. today at the Fruitport Township Fire Station, 5815 Airline. Other drop-off events are scheduled in April, June and October in the city of Muskegon, Dalton Township and Norton Shores respectively.
Local law enforcement and substance abuse officials are pleased with the amount of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that were taken off the streets in five drop-off events last year.
“We want to get these drugs back into a controlled situation,” Muskegon Police Sgt. Jon Baker said of the drug collection program. Law enforcement is concerned about the drugs being abused by young people or being used unsafely by senior citizens, he said.
“These prescriptions are just as dangerous as illegal street drugs,” Baker said. “I was amazed to see first hand how much of this stuff is out there.”
The Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program collected 272 pounds of controlled and unknown drugs, according to first-year statistics. The street value of these drugs is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, program officials estimate.
After being collected, the controlled drugs are supervised by licensed pharmacists and placed in the immediate possession of local law enforcement through the Muskegon County Sheriff's Department in cooperation with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, Uthe said.
Along with non-controlled and over-the-counter medications, the medicines are placed in sealed 55-gallon drums and eventually shipped by FedEx to a Texas-based licensed drug incineration operation. The drugs provide “green” power as the incineration process creates electricity and steam, Uthe said.
Many parents might be shocked to learn the latest fad at parties attended by high school and college-aged young people. They'll raid mom and dad's medicine cabinet and invite friends over with pills they have pilfered and put them altogether in a bowl. The young people then ingest a handful of unknown pills, said the staffer at the Lakeshore Health Network — a group of area physicians and healthcare providers associated with Mercy Health Partners.
“We are finding young people stealing prescription drugs and selling them at school or trading them with their friends,” Uthe said. “They will go and take a concoction of the medications at these parties.”
If those stories won't motivate people to properly dispose of old, unused or unneeded drugs and medicines, there is an environmental twist to drug disposal. Uthe said that old methods of disposal by flushing the drugs down toilets or putting them in the garbage has resulted in small elements of the drugs showing up in ground water, lakes and streams.
“We really appreciate the cooperation of our local townships and cities with their police and fire departments,” said Laura Fitzpatrick, who coordinates the Coalition for a Drug Free Muskegon County as part of the Muskegon Community Health Project.
“Fire stations are safe places for people to bring their medications,” Fitzpatrick said of the program, which does not question any participant on the source of their medications.
Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program
A sample of the drugs collected during the first year of the program.
The Saturday drop-off events are for prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, ointments, sprays, inhalers, creams, pet medications and needles. The drop-off volunteers cannot accept illegal drugs, biohazardous materials, household wastes or personal care items, organizers said.
During business hours, certain pharmacies will take non-prescription medicines for disposal in the Muskegon Area Medication Disposal Program.
The drug collection program began as a collaboration of the Muskegon Community Health Project and Mercy Health Partner's Lakeshore Health Network. It has been supported by law enforcement, local governments, pharmacies and Public Health-Muskegon County among other agencies.
A modest budget of nearly $10,000 has been supported by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and the Osteopathic Foundation of West Michigan. The first-year effort included the work of 128 volunteers.
One of the men dropping off drugs last year had a particularly heart-breaking story. He said a father told volunteers at one of the drop-off events that he regretted having a dangerous medication in the house earlier in the year. He said his son used the prescription drug to commit suicide, she said.