More than 25 police departments and pharmacies countywide are set to take part in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local police officers will staff the 29 collection sites to receive expired, unused and unwanted prescription medication from the community. The event, organized by the Cambria County Drug Coalition, marks the single largest prescription drug collection effort in Cambria County to date. 

Since its inception more than two years ago, one of the primary objectives of the Drug Coalition has been to decrease the supply of drugs available for abuse in the community. 

One of the most effective ways to do so is through prescription drug collection.

It is not uncommon for households to accumulate unused prescription medications over time. Caregivers can find themselves in possession of their departed loved ones’ prescriptions after their death, parents can wind up with leftover medications from their children, and adults can find themselves with extra medication following a medical procedure or illness. Drug collection events serve to safely dispose of these unwanted medications.

In 2018, law enforcement collected and safely disposed of more than 2,000 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs. Safe disposal of unwanted prescription medications reduces the overall quantity of drugs accessible for abuse. By limiting access to prescription drugs, we can prevent potential harm to our teenagers and children. With less access to prescription drugs, teens have fewer opportunities to experiment with dangerous or addictive medications, and by lowering the number of prescription drugs in our households, we also reduce the risk of young children accidentally consuming these medications. 

On average, a call is placed to poison control centers once every 14 seconds in the U.S. 

Accidental ingestion of prescription medication is one of the leading causes of accidental poisoning.

For adults, drug overdose is now the No. 1 accidental killer in our commonwealth. The start of opiate use conditions for many individuals started with doctor-prescribed opioid painkillers. On average, 13 people suffer fatal overdoses per day in Pennsylvania. 

Statewide, more than 6,000 people died from fatal overdoses last year. In Cambria County, there were 61 overdose deaths in 2018, down from 87 in 2017 and 94 in 2016. So far in 2019, Cambria County has seen 30 drug overdoses, six of which have been fatal. While last year’s figures and the 2019 year-to-date totals signify an encouraging trend, our goal is to reduce the number of overdoses to zero.

Safe disposal of unwanted prescription medication can also reduce your risk of being a crime victim. Burglars frequently target homes with large caches of prescription medications, particularly prescription opioids, benzodiazepines and amphetamines.

For these reasons, we ask that all Cambria County residents take this opportunity to do some “spring cleaning” by safely disposing of unused prescription medications at one of our drug collection sites.

Solid over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, tablets and capsules, liquid medications, inhalers, creams, ointments, nasal sprays and pet medications will be accepted at all sites. 

During the collection event, all medications will be placed together in large containers, the weight will be totaled, and the drugs will be picked up by agents from the DEA and safely disposed of.

Law enforcement will be available at the following pharmacies for this event:

• Mainline Pharmacies in Cresson, Ebensburg, Nanty Glo and Portage.

• Martella’s Pharmacies in Park Hill, Johnstown and Windber locations.

• Walmart pharmacies in Ebensburg and Richland.

• East Hills pharmacy in Richland.

• Giant Eagle pharmacy in Northern Cambria.

The above locations will be staffed by Cambria County detectives and the following police departments: Cambria Township, Cresson Borough, East Taylor Township, Ebensburg Borough, Nanty Glo Borough, Johnstown, Northern Cambria Borough, Portage Borough, Richland Township and Windber Borough.

The following police departments will have drop-off locations at their offices:

Blacklick Township, Carrolltown Borough, Conemaugh Township, East Taylor Township, Ferndale Borough, Geistown Borough, Hastings Borough, Jackson Township, Summerhill Township, Upper Yoder Township and West Hills Regional.

There will also be drop-off locations at Daisytown Borough, Oakland and Riverside fire departments staffed by Stonycreek Township police.

A map of all collection sites can be found on the DEA website at www.dea.gov

If you are unable to make the event, medications can always be dropped off at the Cambria County Courthouse or any of the following police department permanent site locations:

Cambria Township, Carrolltown Borough, Conemaugh Township (Cambria), East Taylor Township, Ferndale Borough, Geistown Borough, Hastings Borough, Jackson Township, Johnstown, Nanty Glo Borough, Patton Borough, Pennsylvania State Police, Richland Township, Stoneycreek Township, Summerhill Township, Upper Yoder Township, Vintondale Borough, West Hills regional, and Windber Borough.

On behalf of all the agencies involved, we hope to see you at one of our collection sites. 

Thank you in advance for taking part in this DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and making our community a safe, friendly and great place to live, work and play.

Kristy Freoni is the chief county detective for the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office. She also serves as a member of the Law Enforcement Sector Committee of the Drug Coalition.

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