In barely six months a program to reduce the amount of unwanted prescription drugs in city medicine cabinets has collected more than 300 pounds of pharmaceuticals.
Medidrop, a program sponsored by local health officials and law enforcement, has four locations in the city that allow reisdents to anonymously and securely drop off unwanted or unused meds.
Program leaders have been surprised by the enthusiastic reponse to the campaign.
"When you look at the weight of a vial of tablets from your pharmacist and how much that contains, this is a significant amount of pharmaceuticals taken out of circulation," said Cornwall police chief Dan Parkinson. "Not as many young people are accessing these tablets."
Parkison is referring to what have become known as "Skittles parties" - where young people get together and dump a bunch of pills into a bowl. They then grab handfuls of the different pills and consume them, hoping to get high.
"We know these situations exist," said Parkinson. "You really don't know what you are taking."
Danielle Lauzon, exhibit officer with Cornwall police and one of the organizers of the Medidrop program, told Seaway News while officials aren't cataloguing individual drop-offs, the majority of the pills left for disposal are prescription meds and vitamins.
"We weigh it, that way we can keep track of the quantity we're taking in," she said. "We really didn't know how the program would take off."
Medidrop was launched in May. Four drop-off boxes have been placed throughout the city: one each at both locations of the Cornwall hospital, one at police headquarters on Pitt Street, and another at the community police office on Montreal Road.
The secured lock-boxes are bolted to the floor and are monitored 24-hours a day. The box at the Montreal Road locale is available during regular business hours.
The drop-boxes are equipped with sharps containers so that individuals can dispose of unwanted syringes and needles.
The items are destroyed via incineration.
Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, told a press conference in May he has treated, and even pronounced dead, children who have consumed prescription drugs.
And Roumeliotis suggested the conventional thinking that expired medication is simply not as potent as drugs fresh from the pharmacy, is flawed.
“What people don’t realize…is these medications, if they’re expired, are actually more dangerous if they are taken,” he said, adding taking expired tetracycline can lead to renal failure.
- With Seaway News files