Officials: 8,000 lbs of prescription drugs collected in 2016

At one of the collection boxes, from left to right: Chief John Narcise, Willistown Supervisor Bill Shoemaker, Paoli Hospital President Jim Paradis, District Attorney Tom Hogan, Willistown Supervisor Bob Lange, and Willistown Township Manager Dave Burman.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced that more than 8,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected in 2016 through the Chester County drug disposal box program. The program places secure drop boxes in locations around Chester County so that citizens can safely dispose of prescription medications.

The drug disposal box program was started in 2014 by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, and a few local police departments. The program then expanded dramatically, and now includes cooperation between many police departments, Paoli Hospital, the Chester County Health Department, Pennsylvania American Water, the Chester County Commissioners, the National Guard, and other volunteers.

The yearly totals for the amount of drugs collected in Chester County through the drug disposal box program are as follows:

2014

1392.8 lbs.

2015

2967.4 lbs.

2016

8073.6 lbs.

“The drug disposal box program continues  to be a success in Chester County,” Hogan said in a statement. “The safe disposal of prescription medication, especially powerful opioids, keeps these drugs from getting into the wrong  hands.

We are protecting both our children and our environment, two goals everybody supports.”

Paoli Hospital, part of Main Line Health, recently installed a prescription drug drop box to allow for the safe and anonymous disposal of unneeded, unwanted, or expired medications. The drop box is located in the Paoli Hospital valet lobby. It is monitored by Paoli Hospital security staff and emptied by the Willistown Township Police Department.

“We have come a long way from flushing unwanted pills down the drain into the water system,” said Jim Paradis, President of Paoli Hospital. “Installing this box won’t completely solve this problem, but it’s one more step in the right direction, and it gives us an opportunity to continue our efforts to combat the opioid crisis in our community.”

“Chester County’s prescription drug disposal boxes are an effective, critical component in working to prevent addiction,” said Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06), a member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic.  “The  strong leadership from the District Attorney’s Office and partnering agencies and organizations, combined with state and federal assistance, is making a positive impact in tackling the opioid epidemic. We must continue to focus on  this epidemic because there is more work to do.”

The drug disposal boxes work as follows. Citizens can drop off prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications in the drug drop boxes. The boxes are  secure boxes located in police stations or other safe areas. The drop-offs are anonymous. The medication periodically is picked up by members of the Chester County Detectives and disposed of safely by the National Guard.

Chief Brenda Bernot of the Westtown/East Goshen Police Department, one of the participating police departments, stated, “The medication collection box in the lobby of our police department is a service that our citizens value because of its convenience. Our police department also values this service because we recognize that disposing of unwanted, unused, or expired medications in this manner is not only an environmentally friendly method of disposal, but also a foolproof method to ensure that the medications do not end up falling into the hands of children, addicts, or criminals.”

According to current statistics, approximately 70% of the United States population will take some type of prescription medication every year. The three most prescribed drugs in the United States are (in order): (1) antibiotics; (2) antidepressants; and (3) opiates, such as oxycodone.

In the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, the largest drug threat currently comes from prescription drugs and heroin, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Nationwide, more people are dying from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of any and all illegal drugs (including heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines). In fact, drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, surpassing traffic accidents and guns.

The most abused prescription drugs in the United States today are opioids, such as oxycodone. A few simple statistics show the explosive growth of this class of drugs. In 1998, 11.5 tons of oxycodone were produced world-wide. By 2013, 138 tons of oxycodone were produced. Over 90% of the oxycodone produced is consumed in the United States.

Jeanne Casner, Director of Chester County’s Health Department, stated, “Chester County is very fortunate to have such a successful medication disposal program through the collaboration of Chester County agencies. Many people who misuse prescription drugs get them from friends and family, who may be unaware that their unused prescriptions are missing. Ensuring people have safe and known locations for disposing of unused or unwanted prescriptions is a critical element in our broader efforts to reduce access to and misuse of prescriptions, and prevents the prescriptions from ending up in our wastewater treatment facilities and contaminating groundwater.”

“Working together, Chester County has taken an aggressive approach to combating the scourge of opioids and heroin,” Hogan said. “We use the drug disposal boxes. Every police department carries naloxone. We run a strong Drug Court program. We have a multi-disciplinary task force, which has been educating doctors on the dangers of these drugs. We speak to students though the Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education program. We target  drug  dealers for prosecution.  As a result, Chester County has the lowest overdose rate  in Southeastern Pennsylvania. But we must do more.  Every child who dies from  an overdose is a tragedy for some family.”

There  are 23  drug  disposal boxes  located  in Chester County. The drop boxes can be found at the following locations:

Caln Township Police Department 253 Municipal Drive

Thorndale, PA 19320

Tredyffrin Township Police Department 1100 DuPortail Road

Berwyn, PA 19312

City of Coatesville Police Department 1 City Hall

Coatesville, PA 19320

Valley Township Police Department

890 W. Lincoln Highway Coatesville, PA 19320

East Brandywine Twp.

Police Department 1212 Horseshoe Pike

Downingtown, PA 19335

Upper Uwchlan Township Police  Department 140 Pottstown Pike

Chester Springs, PA 19425

Easttown Township Police Department 566 Beaumont Rd

Devon PA 19333

West Brandywine Twp.

Police Department 198 Lafayette Road

Coatesville, PA 19320

Kennett Square Borough Police Department 115 N. Broad Street

Kennett Square, PA 19348

West Caln Township Police Department

721 W Kings Highway Coatesville, PA 19320

New Garden Township Police Department  8934 Gap Newport Pike Landenberg, PA 19350

West Chester University Police Department

690 South Church Street West Chester PA 19383

North Coventry Township Police Department

845 South Hanover Street Pottstown, PA 19464

West Goshen Township Police Department 1025 Paoli Pike

West Chester, PA 19382

Oxford Borough Police Department 57 N. Fourth Street Oxford, PA 19363

West Vincent Township Police Department

729 St. Matthews Road Chester Springs, PA 19425

Parkesburg Borough Police Department

315 W. First Ave., Bldg. 2

Parkesburg, PA 19365

West Whiteland Township Police Department

101 Commerce Drive

Exton, PA 19341

Phoenixville Borough Police Department 351 Bridge Street

Phoenixville, PA 19460

Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department 1041 Wilmington Pike West Chester, PA 19382

Sheriff’s Office Chester County Justice Ctr.

201 W. Market Street West Chester, PA 19380

Willistown Township Police Department 688 Sugartown Road

Malvern, PA 19355

Paoli Hospital

255 West Lancaster Ave.

Paoli, PA 19301

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