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Clean out that medicine cabinet


New drug drop box is a safe place to dispose of medications

West Linn residents now have a safe place to dispose of unwanted medications. A drug drop box is now in place in the lobby of the West Linn Police Department.

The box, which looks similar to a United States Postal Service mailbox, is a secure location to anonymously dispose of over-the-counter and prescription medication.

Sgt. Dave Kempas of the West Linn Police Department said he saw a similar drop box at the Sherwood police station during a training last fall and thought it would be a good idea for West Linn.by: VERN UYETAKE - The drug drop box located in the lobby of the West Linn Police Department accepts both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

“I thought it was a pretty slick idea,” Kempas said.

In the past, the city has participated in drug take-back days, but with a secure location, residents don’t have to hang on to unwanted items until a collection day.

“This is something that is starting to go across the country,” Kempas said of the drop boxes gaining popularity.

The box is the result of a partnership between the company MedReturn and Clackamas County Water Environment Services.

According to MedReturn’s website, “Research shows that currently many unwanted or expired household and prescription medications are improperly disposed of. The harmful methods being used include flushing the drugs down toilets or putting them into the garbage. Both of these methods have damaging effects on our environment and contaminate our water supply.” 

Kempas said the biggest reason for the drop box is to get the medications out of medicine cabinets and away from the temptation of abuse.

“It removes stuff from the medicine cabinets. What has become a real problem in the last decade is prescription abuse, especially in our younger generation,” he said.

Kempas said instead of teens and young adults throwing keggers (parties with beer and alcohol), today kids are “pharming,” or combing through parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets and bringing the collection of pharmaceuticals to a party — creating a potentially dangerous mix of drugs.

The collected discarded medications will be taken to an incinerator, according to Kempas. By burning the drugs, it keeps them from leaching into the water system or contaminating the ground in landfills.

“It’s a convenient place for people to dispose of medication,” Kempas said.

He said he was amazed at the large amounts of drugs people brought in during the drug take-back days, especially from adult children with aging parents who were on heavy painkillers.

“I was very much surprised,” he said.

Items accepted in the drug drop box include prescription medications and samples, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, pet medications, medicated ointments and liquid medication in leak-proof containers. Items not accepted are thermometers, syringes, IV bags, bloody or other infectious waste, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans or inhalers, EpiPens, medications from businesses or clinics and ointments, lotions and liquids.

Items can be dropped off in the box during police station hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays. The station is located at 22825 Willamette Drive.