Over the past year, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has collected and disposed more than 6,000 pounds of pharmaceutical drugs from permanent drop-off containers around the state.

Since March of 2011, OBN has placed 118 pharmaceutical take-back containers in police and sheriff department lobbies for the public to safely dispose of old, unwanted medications in the home.

Since June 2011, there has been a drop-off container in the Miami Police Station lobby and the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office lobby. A total of 74 pounds of prescription drugs were deposited in the police station container and 32 pounds in the sheriff's office lobby.

OBN Spokesman Mark Woodward says properly disposing of expired medication is critical.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in Oklahoma. It’s unnecessary and unsafe to leave outdated drugs in the house. Old, expired medications left in the home can be targeted by users. Teenagers also target their parent’s current or expired prescription drugs to abuse, trade or sell in order to obtain alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.”

– Mark Woodward, OBN Spokesman

Woodward says the permanent disposal containers allow the public to dispose of old medication year-round rather than waiting for an official drug take-back day in their community.

“Take-back days have been very successful, but we don’t want people stock-piling expired medication in their home for weeks or months until a take-back program is held in their community.”

– Mark Woodward, OBN Spokesman

OBN Director Darrell Weaver says the disposal containers are vital for preventing the potential disasters caused by keeping unnecessary mediations in the home.

"Prescription drug abuse is a "silent cancer" in Oklahoma with 81 percent of the drug overdose deaths in our state tied to prescription drugs. Simply put, our citizens are dying and it's unacceptable. This statewide program is believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation and we believe it has the potential to have a significant impact on this troubling problem. If we save one citizen’s life then the effort will be worth it."

– R. Darrell Weaver, OBN Director

Woodward says OBN has a partnership agreement with Covanta Energy in Tulsa to safely destroy the drugs collected from the disposal containers at no charge to OBN or the state of Oklahoma. Through their Prescription for Safety Program (Rx4Safety), Covanta provides the safe disposal of medications collected by drug take-back programs free of charge to communities nationwide. Rx4Safety was launched in 2010 as a solution to help communities keep medications out of our nation’s waterways and drinking water, as well as to help with the problem of abuse. To date, Covanta’s program has destroyed more than 210,000 pounds of unwanted medications at its Energy-from-Waste facilities nationwide.

“Covanta is proud to provide this service free of charge for Oklahoma citizens and the residents of Tulsa. Energy-from-Waste facilities like Covanta WBH provide a safe way to dispose of unwanted medications, while producing clean energy. They are equipped with state-of-the-art combustion controls and air pollution control equipment to ensure the destruction of these drugs in an environmentally sound manner, one that protects the water we depend upon day in and day out and ensures that unwanted drugs are not available for abuse.”

– Matt Newman, Covanta Energy Representative

The Covanta Energy-from-Waste facility processes all of the City of Tulsa’s municipal solid waste into clean, renewable energy. At the Covanta facility, the collected medications will be combusted at high temperatures to ensure their complete destruction, unlike other methods of disposal that can contaminate water sources.

When flushed down the drain, or disposed of in landfills, medications find their way into waterways and contaminate surface waters, having an adverse effect on our drinking water and the environment. These drugs cannot be removed from water supplies at typical waste water treatment plants and the contaminated water can then have negative effects on aquatic organisms, fish, and other wildlife.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has a list of the drop box locations on its web site at www.ok.gov/obndd