September 28, 2013


869 pounds of drugs turned in

Biannual pharmaceutical collection held in C’ville, Marathon

CollectionJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Kimberly McRae Friedman, left, and Fred Lutz, right, sort out controlled substances Saturday at the Cortlandville Fire Department during a collection of unwanted medications.

Staff Reporter

CORTLANDVILLE — Two collection sites for unwanted medications gathered 869 pounds of drugs from 332 vehicles on Saturday in Marathon and Cortlandville.
About 100 cars stopped at the Cortlandville Fire Station in the first hour of the drug collection, which used a drive-thru format, with volunteers collecting the pills out participants’ car windows.
A second location collecting was in front of Marathon High School, which ran from 9 a.m. to noon. The Cortlandville collection was held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The drug take-back accomplishes two important objectives, said Kimberly McRae Friedman, director of Cortland Prevention Resources, which organized the event.
“First and foremost it gets these medications off the street,” Friedman said. “Also, it protects the water supply.”
Some people flush excess pharmaceuticals down the toilet. Even throwing the prescription drugs into the garbage usually ends with them being thrown into landfills, where they might still contaminate water due to runoff and leaching into soil.
Concerns over water safety were the reason that Georgette Ogle stopped by to drop off unwanted pharmaceuticals. Ogle had never been to one of the drug take back events but said she would “definitely” do so again.
“So I don’t end up putting them in the water supply,” Ogle said when asked about the benefits of the collection.
All of the medication collected on Saturday was taken to the Oswego County Energy Recovery incinerator in Fulton. Friedman said the pharmaceuticals were incinerated by 4 p.m. the same day they were collected.
A variety of different medications turned up at the event as well as some common medicine cabinet items such as deodorant and toothpaste. Pharmacist Fred Lutz was helping to document the different medications, some of which arrived in resealable sandwich bags and other unmarked containers.
Mary Ray, who attended the event to drop off medication, was especially excited that the event took a wide variety of products.
“I think it’s awesome people can dispose of their pills, animal pills and ointments,” Ray said. “They can do it somewhere safe and secure where it won’t get out into the environment.”
Lutz said the event is as accommodating as possible when accepting medication.
Some categories, such as controlled substances, cancer medication and antibiotics were among the most common.
“The controlled substances are mainly pain medication,” Lutz said.
Another common find were samples of medication given to patients by doctors without a prescription that were never used. At one point an entire shopping bag full of samples was turned in.
A majority of the medication dropped off was either expired or drugs someone was prescribed but stopped using or never used, according to Lutz.
“Most of the people that come through are over the age of 50,” Friedman said.
The biannual event is held once in the spring and fall. Begun in 2009, the medication disposals are only held twice a year because of the permits and logistics required to hold the event, according to Friedman.
The pharmaceutical take back in April collected over 1,000 pounds of medication from 307 cars.
The next pharmaceutical collection will be held April 26, with one location at the Cortlandville fire station from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the other at the Cincinnatus fire station from 9 a.m. to noon.


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