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W.Va. residents turn in prescriptions during National Drug Take Back Day

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Hudson of Loudendale emptied a small bag full of old medication into a container in a grocery store parking lot Saturday.

Hudson's wife died in December and he needed something to do with the many medications leftover from those she had taken for dementia and diabetes.

"They say don't flush them down the commode in case it gets into your water system," Hudson said. "This is a pretty good deal, really."

Hudson was one of the people who took advantage of National Drug Take Back Day.

The event was sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration and supported by local law enforcement agencies who run collection sites. People are encouraged to turn in their leftover prescription drugs to be incinerated by the DEA.

Hudson also turned in medications last year when his mother-in-law died, he said.

"I think it's a great program," Hudson said. "I think people ought to take advantage of it. It looks like they are -- that container is about full."

Charleston Police Cpl. Mark Petty, who manned a collection site on the parking lot of the Foodland in Kanawha City, said between 60 and 70 people dropped off their medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.

Some, like Hudson, were getting rid of the pills that a loved one used before he or she died.

"For a lot of them, it gives them peace of mind to know it's out of the house" and they won't be a target for someone who wants to steal them, Petty said.

This is the sixth time the DEA has had a Drug Take Back Day. They are scheduled every six months.

With each event the volume of prescription drugs collected has increased as more and more people hear about the program, said Bob Negro, a DEA special agent stationed in Charleston.

The goal of the program is to keep the prescription drugs from being diverted, which is the term that officials use for legitimate drugs that have gotten into the wrong hands and are being used for illegal purposes, he said.

"We don't want people to flush them," Negro said. "Studies have shown they can end up in the water supply. There's already enough contaminants in water."

Negro said pill use has gotten so bad the DEA and local agencies have recently formed a special unit devoted to getting them off the street.

Drug Take Back Day is an amnesty program, he said. No one is charged for having the drugs they turn in, he said.

"We just want it off the streets," Negro said. "That's what this is about."Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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