TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes wants residents to be aware that the West Windsor Police Department has been designated as a Project Medicine Drop location for the safe disposal of unused prescription medications.
Project Medicine Drop was developed by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs as part of its effort to halt the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs. It allows consumers to dispose of unused and expired medications anonymously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at “prescription drug drop boxes” located within the headquarters of participating police departments. The West Windsor Police Department, located at 20 Municipal Drive, is the only Project Medicine Drop location in Mercer County.
The Project Medicine Drop boxes are lockable, metal containers resembling mailboxes. The boxes enable consumers to drop off their unused or excess medications safely and securely, with law enforcement agencies authorized to take custody of controlled dangerous substances.
“Having a permanent drop-off location at the West Windsor Police Department makes it easier than ever for people to take an active role in the fight against prescription drug abuse,” Hughes said. “I urge Mercer County residents to take advantage of this service.”
Hughes noted that residents also have an opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted, unused prescription drugs through the National Take Back Initiative, which provides a single-day opportunity to drop off unused medications at pre-identified, secure locations. The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, is a local participant in that event.
The safe-disposal programs help keep prescription drugs from falling into the hands of those who might make them available for abuse, and prevents them from being flushed into the water supply or thrown into the trash where they could contaminate the environment. In a partnership endorsed by the State Department of Environmental Protection, Morristown-based Covanta Energy, a nationwide operator of energy-from-waste and renewable energy facilities, has agreed to destroy the medications at no cost to taxpayers, thus potentially saving the police departments thousands of dollars per year.
The healthcare community is part of the State’s multi-tiered approach to fighting prescription drug abuse, joining law enforcement and the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program. Supporting that effort in Mercer County are the Prevention Coalition of Mercer County and the Greater Mercer Public Health Partnership. PCMC is a group of diverse individuals from the community dedicated to the prevention and treatment of alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse problems. GMPHP, a collaboration of 14 organizations representing the public health sector, health care providers and community organizations, was created to implement a three-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that is used to create a Community Health Improvement Plan for Mercer County, focusing on the needs of vulnerable populations.
The New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program is a statewide database that tracks prescription data on controlled dangerous substances and human growth hormone medications dispensed in New Jersey. It includes enhanced enforcement initiatives, including a comprehensive reorganization of the State Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau to focus on drug diversion investigations and indiscriminate prescribing by healthcare practitioners. It also includes strategies to reduce the supply of drugs available for abuse, and greater public awareness about the dangers of abuse.
The scope of America’s prescription drug abuse problem is staggering:
- According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 70 percent of people age 12 and older who abused prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, compared with 5 percent who obtained them from drug dealers or the Internet.
- In June 2011, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation reported that a growing number of young people are abusing prescription drugs, and noted a significant trend in which the practice has led to increases not only in the number of young people addicted to painkillers, but to the number of young people using heroin as well.
- Every day, 40 Americans die from an overdose caused by prescription painkiller abuse, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdoses of opioid prescription drugs now kill more people in the U.S. than heroin and cocaine combined.
- Two in five teenagers mistakenly believe prescription drugs are "much safer" than illegal drugs, according to the DEA, and three in 10 teens mistakenly believe prescription painkillers are not addictive.
For more information on halting the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs, visit the State Division of Consumer Affairs’ website at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov.