For Immediate Release Media Contacts: Collin Nash and Sid Nathan
June, 10, 2010 (516) 869-7794
North Hempstead’s Pharmaceutical Take-back Event Nets Record-Breaking Collection of Narcotics
North Hempstead, NY--As Long Island grapples with a heroin epidemic among teens, Supervisor Jon Kaiman and the Town Board announced that North Hempstead’s pharmaceutical disposal program not only netted more prescription and over the counter medicines than previous events but brought in what law enforcement officials termed a “staggering” amount of narcotics.
Held simultaneously with the Saturday June 5 Stop Throwing Out Pollutants (S.T.O.P.) program at Solid Waste Management Authority facility at 802 West Shore Rd., in Port Washington, the most recent pharmaceutical take back program netted 460 pounds of pharmaceuticals compared to an approximate 400 pounds reaped by the program last June.
The most recent prescription drug collection event, the fourth since the program started, produced a more worrisome statistic, however. Compared to the 10 pounds of narcotics collected during the event held the same time last year, last week’s event reaped a stunning 150 pounds of narcotics, pain-reliever medications, including Vicodin, Percoset and Oxycodone.
“The growing success of our pharmaceutical take-back program not only underscores the critical need for such an effort, but speaks volumes about the troublesome quantity of potentially dangerous drugs that might otherwise be left in households or improperly discarded, posing a threat to the safety of our environment and our children,” Supervisor Jon Kaiman said. “We are proud to be at the forefront of this vital program in Nassau County.”
Since its inception in June last year, the Pharmaceutical Disposal Program has collected approximately 2,460 pounds of medications from households, thereby diverting it from our solid waste stream, our waterways and out of harms way of increasing numbers of teens reported to be abusing prescription drugs.
Studies by the Partnership for a Drug Free America indicated that “1 in 5 teenagers abused a prescription pain medication; 1 in10 report abusing prescription stimulants, and 1 in 10 abused cough medicines.
According to law enforcement and other observers, prescription drug abuse among teems is a known gateway to the use of heroin and other illegal drugs.
“We along with the Town recognize the hazards related to the presence of prescription medications in homes,” said Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan of the Nassau County Police Department. “From a law enforcement perspective, we are seeing more arrests and particularly as it’s related to narcotics. We are encouraged by this successful partnership with the Town to help take these drugs out of the stream of misuse.”
North Hempstead was the first municipality in Nassau County to host a drug disposal event.
In addition to being touted as a stepping stone to illegal drug use, unused, unwanted and expired pharmaceuticals has emerged as one of the most complex and troubling environmental issues of the day.
In the past, flushing expired and leftover prescription and over-the-counter medications down the toilet or washing them down sinks was considered the norm for disposing of these drugs. Routinely, they were also dumped in the trash that goes to the landfill.
Now, studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency have identified small quantities of more than 100 pharmaceuticals and personal-care products in samples of the nation's drinking water. Among the drugs detected are antibiotics, steroids, hormones and antidepressants.
For more information, please call 311.
Bags of unused, unwanted pharmaceuticals are returned to North Hempstead’s Pharmaceutical Collection Event.