Drop boxes seen as key to fighting drug crisis

Drop off old medications, anytime: It's now easier to keep pills off the streets and away from groundwater


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Photos



  • Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin demonstrates the new PA MedReturn box at the Sheriff's office. (Photo by Charles Reynolds)




  • Pike County Sheriff Phillip Bueki, DA Ray Tonkin and Eastern Pike Regional Police Corporal Matthew McCormick announce PA MedReturn boxes now in Pike County locations. (Photo by Charles Reynolds)




  • Pike County Sheriff Phillip Bueki demonstrates use of new PA MedReturn box at the Sheriff's office. (Photo by Charles Reynolds)



Where the boxes are

Pike County Sheriff’s office — 500 Broad St., Milford Borough. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Eastern Pike Regional Police Department — 10th Avenue I, Matamoras. Open 24 hours a day.
Statewide — A statewide location finder is available at www.ddpa.pa.gov
More information — Pike County Sheriff’s website: pikepa.org/sheriff.html

By Charles Reynolds
— Prescription drugs save lives every day. But when they get into the wrong hands, the whole community suffers.

That was the message imparted by Pike County Sheriff Phillip Bueki and Eastern Regional Pike Police Corporal Matthew McCormack when announcing their departments' acquisition of PA MedReturn boxes. Residents may use them to discard their unused and expired prescription and over-the-counter medication safely and anonymously.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Pennsylvania. And prescription drugs that contain opiates can lead to heroine use, which is becoming a critical problem in Pike County.

“The best way to avoid the risks of prescription drug abuse, especially for children and teenagers, is to safely dispose of medications when they are unused or expired,” Tonkin said.

The MedReturn boxes will help take unused and expired prescription drugs off the street, he said.

Sheriff Bueki has often said that 80 percent of incarcerations in Pike County prisons are drug related. The abuse of opiates has led to an increase in cases of driving under the influence, robberies, burglaries and even assaults.

The sheriff's twice-yearly drug take-back program also helps keep drugs out of the water system. Drugs should never be flushed down the toilet because they'll end up in the groundwater. But it's difficult for some senior citizens to get out of the house during single events to dispose of their old medications.

McCormack said the box at the Eastern Pike Regional Police station in Matamoras is already about a quarter full after only a few weeks. The station is manned 24 hours a day, so people have the opportunity to throw out their medications at any time. The second box is in Milford Borough.

Tonkin said he's working with the state police to get a third box, possibly for the Blooming Grove barracks.

Boxes provide security and anonymity

The drawers on the boxes are designed so that it's impossible to reach into them or take anything out of them. They are bolted to the floor, padlocked, and emptied daily.

Products accepted include controlled and non-controlled prescription medications, over-the-counter solid medications (tablets and capsules), and sealed narcotic patches.

Needles, syringes, creams and liquids will not be accepted.

To drop off medications, empty pill bottles into secure ziplock plastic bags. This will save space in the box and preserve your anonymity. Check in with the receptionist at the Milford location and the duty officer at the Matamoras location. They will tell you how to use the drop box.

The boxes were awarded to the Pike County District Attorney's office through a grant program made possible by a partnership between the PA District Attorney's Association, the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The PA MedReturn boxes are part of Governor Corbett's Healthy PA initiative.

For more information, check the Pike County Sheriff's website: pikepa.org/sheriff.html.

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