Statewide prescription drug drop-off is set for Saturday

FRANKFORT — Most prescription drug abuse starts at home.

That's why state and federal leaders want people to empty their medicine cabinets of unused drugs — particularly prescription pain relievers — and bring them Saturday to one of 75 drop-off sites around Kentucky.

The program is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, officials said Monday. Locations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

In Lexington, there will be four drop-off sites: Kentucky American Water Co., 2300 Richmond Road; The Wal-Mart parking lot, 2350 Grey Lag Way; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, 1600 Man O'War Blvd.; and the Lexington Division of Police, 1165 Centre Parkway.

A recent survey showed that 70 percent of teens acquired a prescription drug through a relative or friend, compared to five percent who said they got prescription drugs from a drug dealer, said Secretary for Justice and Public Safety J. Michael Brown.

By holding onto unused drugs, innocent people have become the main source of prescription drugs for addicts and abusers, Brown said.

Raiding of medicine cabinets has become such a problem that Realtors are now telling people to lock their medicine cabinets during open houses, he said.

Frankfort Police Chief Walter Wilhoite said his agency has teamed with the DEA for two years to conduct prescription drug drop-offs. Four drop-off days in 2011 netted 173,025 doses of medicine, the Frankfort Police Department said.

The drop-off program will accept all types of drugs except hazardous drugs, such as those used in chemotherapy. It also will not accept radioactive materials or needles and sharp instruments.

Wilhoite said disposing of medicines properly also is good for the environment.

"It's not safe to flush these down the toilet," Wilhoite said, because some medicines can contaminate the water supply.

People do not need to give their names or any identifying information when dropping off medicines, Brown said.

The drug drop-off program was announced three days after the General Assembly passed a bill aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse.

House Bill 1, passed Friday during the last day of a five-day special legislative session, will restrict the ownership of pain clinics to physicians and require most physicians who prescribe narcotics to use the state's electronic prescription monitoring system.

Currently, only 25 percent of all doctors access the system to see whether a patient has already been prescribed an addictive drug.