Portland drop box for prescription drugs used almost immediately

From the Oregonian, May 11, 2011

Moments after Portland police and a city crime prevention coordinator this morning unveiled the first prescription drug drop box in East Precinct’s lobby today, a Southeast Portland mom came by and dumped a box of old medication in it.

East Precinct Cmdr. Bill Walker assists Julie Skarphol, who was the first to get rid of a box full of old prescription medication in the precinct's new drop box this morning

“I knew not to dump them in the garbage, but I didn’t know what to do with it all,” said Julie Skarphol, who got rid of three years worth of old cough medicine and medication prescribed for past surgeries. She was with her 1-year-old son Issac.

The Portland Police Bureau now joins Medford and Ashland police in providing a drop box for residents to get rid of prescription medication so they don’t get into the hands of teenagers or children.

Portland police and the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement split the $1,000 cost for the box. The two agencies want to place similar boxes in North and Central precincts.

Two officers from the precinct will empty the box daily, package the discarded prescription pills and take them to the bureau’s property evidence warehouse, where the drugs will be incinerated with other drug evidence, said Jenni Bernheisel, a crime prevention coordinator for 5 neighborhoods covered by East Precinct.

East Precinct, located at 737 SE 106th Avenue, now houses the MedReturn Prescription Drug Drop box in the lobby, available to the community between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Community members can bring in unused and expired medications and drop them anonymously in the box.

Acceptable items for deposit: Prescription medications and samples, all over the counter medications, vitamins, pet medications, medicated ointments, and liquid medication in leak proof containers.

Items not acceptable for deposit: Thermometers/Sharps/Syringes, IV bags, bloody or infectious waste, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, inhalers, EpiPens.

Crime Prevention and the Police Bureau partner on a regular basis to hold prescription drug turn in events and will continue to do so. In the meantime, the prescription drug drop box will afford the community more opportunities to dispose of medications when needed. Medications that are put in the box will be incinerated via standard Portland Police protocol. The drug drop box is not suitable for large quantities from care facilities.

“The prescription drug drop box is one solution to the growing problem of teenagers gaining access to unused and expired medications in the medicine cabinets of their own homes, homes of friends and of grandparents,” Bernheisel said. “There is also a demand from the community to provide a safe disposal option for medications in an effort to protect our waterways.”