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Tri-State wide pill take back ‘success’

SOUTH POINT — With 105 pounds of prescription pills collected, organizers of the first Tri-State wide Prescription Drug Take Back Day deemed the event a success.

“I think it is a great, great program and I think the sheriff and I intend to do it next year,” Dan Palmer of the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste District said. “There were so many compliments. There were numerous sites in the county and it shows you by what we collected that there is a need. Where would people dispose of this? Through our waterways? That is scary.”

Palmer and Sheriff Jeff Lawless teamed up to coordinate a site at the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce on Saturday. There 33 pounds of pills were collected along with a large garbage-size bag of sharps and needles and another one of liquid medicines and boxed medications for breathing machines.

“Most of these were not even opened,” Palmer said. “It is astonishing. You have so many elderly on Medicare and they are spending so much money for this medicine and can’t use it. I was amazed at the amount that wasn’t opened.”

One man brought in several small bottles of liquid morphine that had been used in an IV for his wife, before she died.

The prevalent drugs were hydrocodone and oxycontin, Palmer said.

“We made a list of pills in the first hours and we filled up a page,” he said. “You wonder about the street value.”

The sheriff’s office also manned sites at the Walmart in Burlington and the Lawrence County Fairgrounds. Those three sites brought in 70 pounds of prescription medications.

The Lawrence County Drug Task Force had a site at the Ironton Hills Shopping Center where 35 pounds of pills were taken in.

Palmer’s organization started the drug take back four years ago at Dow Chemical and the sheriff added a second location at the fairgrounds the next year. This was the first year for the event to be opened up to the Tri-State.

At 4 p.m. Saturday the Drug Enforcement Agency took possession of the prescription medications

“We weighed them and they weighed them and photographed them and gave us a receipt,” Lawless said.

The remaining items — empty bottles, needles and sharps — will be incinerated by the sheriff’s office at a burn site. The ashes will then be placed in a container and put in a landfill.

“We are certainly pleased with the response,” Lawless said. “We had a steady flow. This was a huge success in our eyes. We were pleased with the amount of drugs we were able to keep off of our streets. … This is a huge county and with gas prices, it certainly saved people time and gas (with several locations).”