Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Prescription drug abuse drives Florida to collect old medications

As part of the state’s annual Drug Take Back Day, a resident drops off a bag of old prescription drugs at a Sweetbay Supermarket in Tampa on Saturday.


As part of the state’s annual Drug Take Back Day, a resident drops off a bag of old prescription drugs at a Sweetbay Supermarket in Tampa on Saturday.

TAMPA — Jerry Meguar had been saving his old and unused prescription medications for months. He wanted to dispose of the pills properly.

On Saturday morning, loaded down by two plastic grocery bags full of medications, he walked into a Sweetbay Supermarket on North Dale Mabry Highway and dumped them into a large, locked metal container.

Placed there as part of the state's second annual Drug Take Back Day, the container is one of the ways Florida officials are trying to combat prescription drug abuse ravaging the state.

"Florida has been known as the epicenter of prescription drug abuse for a while," Attorney General Pam Bondi said at the event Saturday. "We know that has to stop.

The containers were placed for one day at 17 locations in the Tampa Bay area and at 70 across the state. The state partnered with the Collaborating and Acting Responsibly to Ensure Safety Alliance, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and area law enforcement agencies for the event.

Continuing the focus, Bondi spoke to medical and law enforcement professionals earlier Saturday morning at the Prescription Drug Abuse Summit held in Tampa, presented by the Alliance for Global Narcotics Training. This year's topic: "Prescribing in an Epidemic."

Every day in Florida, seven people die from prescription drug abuse, Bondi said.

She hopes new laws targeting pill mills and the creation of a prescription drug monitoring program can affect the staggering statistic.

"We passed what we feel is a very comprehensive plan to combat prescription drug abuse," Bondi said. "We knew we had to get tough administrative penalties for these doctors."

On Sept. 1, many medical practitioners will be required to report information about the controlled substances they dispense into a statewide database. The database is intended to help doctors spot the drug abusers and help law enforcement officers catch them.

While Florida may be the country's prescription drug abuse epicenter, the Tampa Bay area has become the state's largest problem spot.

"Pinellas County last year had more prescription drug abuse deaths than any other county in Florida," said the state special prosecutor for prescription drug trafficking, Dave Aronberg, at the Drug Take Back Day event.

At a Walgreens in St. Petersburg, 61-year-old James Krause dropped off a plastic bag full of old medicine, some from as far back as five years ago. Two St. Petersburg police officers emptied the pills into a large container.

Most of the pills were antibiotics, Krause said, but there were a few old painkillers.

"I've heard that people will flush them down the toilet," he said. "I don't want it getting into the water. Or have someone go through my trash for them. … Besides, [doctors] always give you too much, anyway."

Walgreens manager John Lyons said the store is happy to help with the event, which is ultimately aimed at addressing the prescription drug use problem that's so prevalent in the Tampa Bay area.

"We understand it's an epidemic," Lyons said. "This gives people a sense of community. It's one way they can help."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at (813) 661-2442 or

Prescription drug abuse drives Florida to collect old medications 08/27/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hernando County Sheriff's Office: Deputies shoot suicidal woman who brandished shotgun


    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies shot a woman they believed to be suicidal after she pointed a shotgun at them Sunday, according to a police report.

  2. Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change


    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning.

    President Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
  3. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  4. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  5. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]