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For safety's sake, residents drop off old medicines

Jeannice Grant stopped at the Walgreens on Saturday before she went walking on the beach.

Unlike many people at the store, Grant wasn't there to pick up a prescription but to dispose of medications left when her father died in October at age 95.

The medicines had been taking up space in her cabinets and refrigerator, but she didn't want to simply toss them in the garbage. So when Grant saw that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office was holding a fourth round of Operation Medicine Cabinet, she decided to take the prescriptions there.

Grant was far from the only one. Pinellas had a record-breaking day, collecting more prescription drugs than ever before at 19 Walgreens throughout the county, sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said. She said Pinellas also collected the most in the state and picked up a bonus as well.

"We got 814 pounds (of prescription medicines) and a gun," Barreda said. "It was a successful day."

Deputies will see the drugs are safely destroyed at the Pinellas County landfill.

Operation Medicine Cabinet began several years ago and spread nationwide. Pinellas County joined the movement two years ago, said Capt. Robert Alfonso of the sheriff's narcotics division. Saturday's event was the fourth for Pinellas and was a statewide effort that included others counties such as Hillsborough.

The goals of Operation Medicine Cabinet are threefold: education, prevention and environmental protection.

Education involves informing people about the prescription drug problem and the safe ways to store and dispose of medications. The program helps keep the drugs out of the hands of kids and others who might come into the household.

"That's how some of the pills are getting out on the street," Alfonso said.

Having the sheriff destroy the medications prevents them from entering the ecosystem, which can happen if they are flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink, Alfonso said.

Grant liked having a place to take her father's unused medications, which included insulin and heart drugs.

"The drugs he had were numerous," she said. And turning into the Walgreens at 674 Welch Causeway just off Duhme Road in Madeira Beach rather than tossing the drugs into the trash was no problem, especially considering the benefits.

"I don't need to contribute any more to our society's criminal activity," Grant said.

And, there was also the benefit of having a less cluttered refrigerator.

"I now have room for another apple," Grant said.

For safety's sake, residents drop off old medicines 08/21/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 21, 2010 10:05pm]
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