Hogan: nearly two tons of prescription drugs collected in 2015


West Goshen Police Chief Joe Gleason, State Rep. Becky Corbin and Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan with one of the many prescription drug collection boxes located around the county. Hogan said Friday that the program collected nearly two tons of drugs in 2015.

WEST CHESTER — Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced Friday that 3,747 pounds of prescription drugs were collected in 2015 through the Chester County drug drop box program. The program places secure drop boxes  in police stations around Chester County so that citizens can safely dispose of prescription medications.

“The Chester County drug drop box program has been a tremendous success,” Hogan said. “We have safely taken almost two tons of prescription drugs out of circulation. Those are drugs that will never cause a child to overdose or become addicted to opiates. Those are drugs that will never get into our ground water and drinking water. Chester County is proud of this program.”

Representative Becky Corbin, a key early supporter of the program said that the program has really been embraced by county residents.

“Until this initiative was launched, many people didn’t know how to properly dispose of excess pain medications or that it was important to do so,” Corbin said. “I am glad the word is getting out and residents are responding. It is important that unused prescription painkillers not be stored in the home.”

The drug drop box program originally was started through a grant from the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. More boxes were added later through funding from Pennsylvania American Water.

The drug drop 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.

Disposing of drugs — rather than allowing them to enter the water supply, or worse end up in the hands of those who would abuse them — helps battle a growing problem with prescription drug abuse.

“Chester County isn’t immune to the opiate drug addiction crisis, and while education, treatment and recovery services are very important, so too are programs such as this, that actually take prescription drugs out of circulation,”Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline said. “The steady level of drugs being collected month after month indicates that prescription practices need to be addressed, beginning with a reduction in the number of pills like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin being prescribed by hospitals, urgent care facilities, and even family doctors.”

Local police have seen the immediate impact of the program as well.

“(The) West Goshen Police Department commends the Chester County District Attorney’s  Office for the drug drop box program,” said Joe Gleason, Chief of the West Goshen Police Department, one of  the participating police departments. “This program provides an invaluable tool for anyone to contribute to the betterment of society by removing the availability of prescription drugs being put into the wrong  hands. The residents of West Goshen Township continue to utilize this program daily which indicates the enormous benefit it provides.”

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. This is the first time in the history of the region that prescription drugs have emerged as the largest threat.

Nationwide, more people are dying from prescription drug overdoses than from overdoses of any and all illegal drugs (including heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines). In Chester County for 2015, there were 57 overdose deaths. Out of these deaths, prescription drugs were involved in 42 deaths.

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 2010, 122.5 tons of oxycodone were produced. Over 80% of the oxycodone produced is consumed in the United States.

“The success of the program is huge and the impact on our communities is significant,” said Vince Brown, the Executive Director of Chester County’s Drug & Alcohol Services. “There is a direct link between the availability of prescription medication and the heroin epidemic and overdose deaths we’re facing nationally, in Pennsylvania and right here in Chester County. What experts lmow is that individuals with heroin addictions today are younger and more frequently getting hooked on drugs ‘not on the street,’ but ‘in the medicine cabinet.’ Raising awareness and getting the medications out of the house and disposed of properly means a safer environment for our children, families, and communities.”

Hogan said he and his colleagues have been surprised at how the program continues to take drugs off the streets.

“When we started this program, we expected to see a large amount of prescription drugs turned in at first, but then for the amounts to decrease,” Hogan said. “Instead, we have seen a steady supply of prescription drugs being collected every month, demonstrating the prevalence of prescription drugs in our society, particularly opioids. This program is part of Chester County’s multi­ disciplinary approach to fighting the problems caused by drug abuse.”

The drug drop boxes can be found at the following locations:

Caln Township Police Department 253 Municipal Drive

Thorndale, PA 19320

City of Coatesville Police Department 1 City Hall

Coatesville, PA 19320

East Brandywine Twp.

Police Department 1212 Horseshoe Pike

Downingtown, PA 19335

Kennett Square Borough Police Department 115 N. Broad Street

Kennett Square, PA 19348

New Garden Township Police Department

8934 Gap Newport Pike Landenburg, PA 19350

North Coventry Township Police Department

845 South Hanover Street Pottstown, PA 19464

Tredyffrin Township Police Department 1100 DuPortail Road

Berwyn, PA 19312

Valley Township Police Department

890 W. Lincoln Highway Coatesville, PA 19320

Upper Uwchlan Township Police Department

140 Pottstown Pike Chester Springs, PA 19425

West Brandywine Twp.

Police Department 198 Lafayette Road

Coatesville, PA 19320

West Caln Township Police Department

721 W Kings Highway Coatesville, PA 19320

West Goshen Township Police Department

l 025 Paoli Pike West Chester, PA 19382

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

Parkesburg Borough Police Department

315 W. First Ave., Bldg. 2

Parkesburg, PA 19365

Phoenixville Borough Police Department 351 Bridge Street

Phoenixville, PA 19460

Sheriff s Office Chester County Justice Ctr.

201 W. Market Street West Chester, PA 19380

West Vincent Township Police Department

729 St. Matthews Road Chester Springs, PA 19425

West Whiteland Township Police Department

101 Commerce Drive

Exton, PA 19341

Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department 1041 Wilmington Pike

West Chester, PA 19382

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