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Take Back Day yields 300 pounds of prescription drugs

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Posted: Saturday, May 5, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:13 am, Sat May 5, 2012.

The Lodi Police Department collected an astounding 300 pounds of unused or expired prescription drugs at their Take Back Day event on April 28, a huge intake for the department's first time participating in the national event.

The hefty collection total was part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's nationwide attempt to remove prescription pills from the streets to try and prevent prescription pill dependence and abuse.

According to Detective Nick Rafiq, the collection far exceeded any expectations.

The police department estimated they would probably bring in around 100 pounds of unused and expired prescription drugs, he said.

"We are happy with its success," Rafiq said. "We will be participating next year."

In the meantime, he added, the department is looking to create a permanent drop-off station in the police department lobby for Lodi residents to leave unused prescription medication any time.

California boasted a total of 173 collection sites last Saturday, and in total roughly 20,915 pounds were collected throughout the state.

Nationally, a total of about 552,161 pounds of expired of unused prescription drugs were collected — a record for the DEA.

"While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities," said DEA administrator Michele Leonhart in a press release.

Three previous Take Back Days have been held nationwide. And when the results of the four Take Back Days to date are combined, more than 1.5 million pounds (774 tons) of expired and unused medication have been collected.

But what happens to all the drugs that are collected during Take Back Day?

According to the DEA, their Office of Diversion Control oversees the disposal of DEA controlled substances.

One way the office disposes of collected unused or expired controlled substances is through incineration.

An approved incinerator is monitored by a federal officer from the U.S. Marshall's office and a local law enforcement official.

However, that method is not widely used yet, as the DEA is still looking to create a permanent method of disposal for the drugs collected through things like Take Back Day.

Until a final decision is made, however, Take Back Days will continue to be a source of preventing drug dependence and abuse both in Lodi and across the U.S.

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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