The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

July 17, 2013

Partnership: OBN has collected more than 46,000 pounds of prescription drugs in 2 years

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and a Tulsa-based energy company are celebrating the anniversary of a two-year partnership of safely disposing of medications.

Over the past two years, OBN has collected more than 46,000 pounds of pharmaceutical drugs from permanent drop-off containers across the state.

OBN spokesman Mark Woodward said properly disposing of expired medication is critical in the battle against one of the state’s worst problems.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in Oklahoma,” Woodward said. “It’s unnecessary and unsafe to leave outdated drugs in the house. Old, expired medications left in the home can be targeted by users.

“Teenagers also target their parent’s current or expired prescription drugs to abuse, trade or sell in order to obtain alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.”

OBN donated two of the containers to local law enforcement agencies: Enid Police Department and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Enid Police Department’s container is located in the lobby of the department, 301 W. Garriott. Garfield County Sheriff’s Office’s container is located inside the department in the basement of Garfield County Court House.

Woodward said the permanent disposal containers allow the public to dispose of old medication year-round, rather than waiting for an official drug take-back day to be hosted in their community.

“Take-back days have been very successful, but we don’t want people stockpiling expired medication in their home for weeks or months until a take-back program is held in their community,” he said.

OBN Director Darrell Weaver said the disposal containers are vital for preventing the potential disasters caused by keeping unnecessary mediations in the home.

“Prescription drug abuse is a silent cancer in Oklahoma, with 81 percent of the drug overdose deaths in our state tied to prescription drugs,” he said. “Simply put, our citizens are dying, and it’s unacceptable.”

Two years ago, OBN partnered with Covanta Energy Co. to dispose of the medications collected by area law enforcement agencies.

“The partnership with Covanta Energy is a win-win-win; the drugs are converted into renewable energy, this service does not cost the citizens of Oklahoma and the pharmaceuticals are destroyed,” Weaver said. “This is a good example of a public/private partnership. This program has had a significant impact on this troubling problem. If we save one citizen’s life, then the effort will be worth it.”

Woodward said OBN has a partnership agreement with Covanta Energy to safely destroy the drugs collected from the disposal containers, at no charge to OBN or the state of Oklahoma.

Through its Prescription for Safety Program (Rx4Safety), Covanta provides the safe disposal of medications collected by drug take-back programs free of charge to communities nationwide.

Rx4Safety was launched in 2010 as a solution to help communities keep medications out of our nation’s waterways and drinking water, as well as to help with the problem of abuse.

To date, Covanta’s program has destroyed more than 600,000 pounds of unwanted medications at its Energy-from-Waste facilities nationwide.

“It is an honor for the Covanta Tulsa Renewable Energy facility to provide this valuable service to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ ‘Safe Trip for Scripts’ program and the citizens of Oklahoma,” said Covanta Energy representative Matthew Newman. “Energy-from-Waste facilities like Covanta Tulsa Renewable Energy provide a safe way to dispose of unwanted medications, while producing clean energy.”

When flushed down the drain, or disposed of in landfills, medications find their way into waterways and contaminate surface waters, having an adverse effect on our drinking water and the environment. These drugs cannot be removed from water supplies at typical waste water treatment plants, and the contaminated water can have negative effects on aquatic organisms, fish and other wildlife, Newman said.

“Our facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure the destruction of these drugs in an environmentally sound manner, one that protects the water we depend upon day in and day out and ensures that unwanted drugs are not available for abuse,” Newman said.

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