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New medication drop-off plan aims to help get opioids out of circulation

Key Foster

The Onondaga County Drug Task Force continues to look for ways to keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands. A new pilot program launched this month will place them in the hands of police.

Nine police agencies, including the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department, are putting out collection bins in their offices for unused prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as used needles.

Gail Banach, of the Upstate New York Poison Center, says the idea is to create a safe place to drop drugs that otherwise could be abused.

"If we can get rid of some of those medications -- get them out of the purses, out of the boxes, out of the homes – obviously, we decrease accessibility and availability and hopefully utilization as well,” said Banach.

The drug task force recommended the program and is specifically looking for ways to get opioids out of the community, as they play a big part in the growing heroin epidemic.

Once those collection bins are filled, they’ll be disposed of at the Covanta trash burning plant. Banach says other forms of disposal, like flushing drugs, aren’t as efficient.

“Although there’s nothing wrong with ideas of burying it in kitty litter and disposing it in the garbage, this to me is a more sensible way of doing it. It takes the middle man out of it. It doesn’t go in the garbage where someone can rifle through it, it goes straight to Covanta for a burn.”

Banach says if the program is successful it could expand to other police agencies in Central New York.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.