Central VA Collects Unused Meds for Safe Drug Take Back Day - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Central VA Collects Unused Meds for Safe Drug Take Back Day

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The Rotary Club hosted this year's Safe Drug Take Back Day at several locations in the Shenandoah Valley. It's part of a national program that has been growing quickly since it started four years ago.

Rotary Club members and Waynesboro police set up a stand at the Walmart in the city. By 2 p.m., they had an SUV full of unwanted medications.

Rotary Club member Mary Kay Vanhooser says the group heard about the national Safe Drug Take Back program three years ago and immediately wanted to bring it to their community.

“We like doing it, we know it's a good service, and that's the purpose of our club is to help people,” she said.

Their service is part of the Take Back Day started by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 2010. Since then, the program has collected and incinerated 3.4 million pounds of pharmaceuticals nationwide.

Vanhooser says the first year they had so many people drop off meds at a collection site in Augusta County, they needed to expand.

“It was astounding; we took in truckloads, two or three truckloads of medication.”

Waynesboro Police Sergeant Brian Edwards says the main reason people drop off their drugs is to keep them from getting used improperly.

“We're really kind of hoping for the prescription meds, stuff that could really contaminate or again that could be taken and maybe used by someone illegally or very unhealthily,” he said.

If disposed of improperly, those medications can also harm the environment.

“Much of what you see coming in today would end up in a landfill, or being flushed down the toilet, and that would contaminate our water supply.”

Each year the program has grown in the Valley. Vanhooser says it's a sign more people are learning about the service.

“It's a good way to handle medicines left over or that can't be used at all for some reason,” she said.

There were around 200 collection sites across the commonwealth Saturday. Last year, the program collected 324 tons nationwide, with 20,000 pounds of that coming from Virginia.

The Valley group collected 15 bags, adding up to 326 pounds of unused prescription drugs on Saturday. They will be out collecting again in October.

People were also able to drop off unwanted prescription drugs in Albemarle County on Saturday. People dropped off bags of medications at the Albemarle County Police Station on Fifth Street and Martha Jefferson’s Outpatient Center on Pantops.

Crews filled nearly 30 bags at about 20 pounds each.

The Police Department works with the DEA to hold this collection every year.

“We want people to properly dispose of the drugs,” said Sgt. Steve Wilkins. “That’s to keep the environment safe as well as making sure that any kind of prescription drugs don’t fall into the hands of kids.”

After the drugs are collected, they’re taken to the Appomattox State Police headquarters. From there, the drugs go to a central location to be incinerated.

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