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Feds take charge of disposal after drug take-back

How do these drug take-back events work? What happens to the drugs after the city or sheriff’s office gets ahold of them?

— Susan

We have a couple of local options to surrender not only unwanted drugs, but also confidential documents for disposal, Susan.

Saturday, Oct. 26, is the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s 18th National Drug Take-Back Day, and local law enforcement is ready for the intake.

“It’s really just a reminder to people to clean the medications out of their home that they don’t need anymore, so they’re not posing a danger to other people,” said Sgt. Julie Denney, public information officer for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Unused prescription or over-the-counter medications can be a threat in a number of ways, according to the DEA. They’re more likely to be abused, or they can get diverted into waterways if people decide to flush them down their toilet.

The drug take-back events provide a safe way to dispose of medication that is not serving its intended purpose any longer. DEA resources show the agency destroys medication it collects.

“Currently, the most common method of rendering pharmaceutical controlled substances nonretrievable is incineration,” said a fact sheet on the take-back initiatives.

Limits exist as to what agencies will take, however. Liquids, needles, inhalers or sharps, as well as chemotherapy medications cannot be accepted and must be disposed of by a local waste manager with a medical waste program. Information on Rogue Disposal’s program is at https://bit.ly/2Na9OWO.

Exceptions, Denney said, are vape cartridges or pens (without lithium-ion batteries), which the DEA is accepting for the first time.

The sheriff’s office take-back event runs Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 5179 Crater Lake Highway, Central Point.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office take-back event runs that same time at 1901 NE F St., Grants Pass.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the city of Medford and Medford police will have their own event, at City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St. There, you’ll also be able to bring personal and confidential documents for shredding.

Some self-restraint is expected, however; the city will cut you off after four grocery bags’ worth of items, according to its Facebook page.

Last October, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office reported 133 pounds of medications dropped off at its event.

The take-back events are increasingly popular, according to the DEA. This year, the Pacific Northwest is setting a record with 215 collection sites across Oregon, Washington Idaho and Alaska. Last April, residents in those states turned in 37,926 pounds, or 19 tons, of prescription medications.

If you miss the take-back day, though, don’t sweat it, Denney said. The sheriff’s office has a drug collection box at its Crater Lake Highway address that’s accessible to the public anytime that the building is open.

Rogue Community Health’s pharmacy, at 19 Myrtle St., Medford, is also registered with the DEA as an approved substance disposal site.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.