Limerick police didn't care where unwanted prescription medicines, dumped into a box surrounded by officers, came from. They accepted them for incineration.

LIMERICK PA – “It’s been pretty busy here,” Limerick (PA) Police Chief William Albany declared, as he watched people deposit unwanted and expired prescription drugs into a box designated for the purpose during Saturday’s (Sept. 25, 2010) “National Take-Back Initiative” to keep such medications out of the hands of potential abusers.

He checked to ensure the bottle was empty.

The Limerick department and six other area law enforcement agencies were among those participating in the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) campaign to accept drugs for free, safe and legal disposal. They were due to be incinerated once collected.

A tall cardboard container adorned by the collection effort’s red, white and blue poster was the focal point of the police booth at the township’s Community Day activities in Limerick Community Park on Swamp Pike at Zieglerville Road. Albany smiled broadly as he noted that “a lot of people have stopped by so far,” only an hour into the four-hour long exercise.

It was that way, too, across much of the nation. More than 3,400 locations were involved in the take-back initiative. Collectively they accounted for tens of tons of pills, creams, syrups, liquids, lotions and capsules, almost all of them containing pharmaceutical substances.

In Houston TX, the Chronicle newspaper reported Sunday (Sept. 26), that city’s 17 sites accumulated 3,000 pounds of drugs for disposal. Compare those numbers to tiny Anderson IN, where that city’s Herald Bulletin newspaper said only eight people rid themselves of a small pile of meds they had no further use for.

The volume didn’t matter, DEA representatives told the media; getting drugs off the streets did. “Rates of prescription drug abuse … are increasing at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show a majority … are obtained from family and friends,” according to agency studies.

There was no immediately available estimate of the number of pounds of medications collected in Limerick, although Albany indicated it was substantial.

Participating departments promised they wouldn’t ask where the drugs came from or who was dropping them off. The ability to remain anonymous seemed to help,  law enforcement officers told the press.

Limerick's state senator, John Rafferty (left), briefly joined Police Chief William Albany at the prescription drug collection site in Limerick Community Park.

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