PLATTSBURGH - Local law enforcement agencies want to get unwanted prescription drugs out of potential circulation by those using them for reasons other than their intended purposes.
Authorities locally joined others across the country April 30 for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an initiative which marked its second year. During a press conference at the local Drug Enforcement Administration office in Plattsburgh the day before, Albany-based DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge James Burns stated last year's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day was "a resounding success" resulting in the largest drug seizure in history.
"The DEA collected 121 tons of unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications," said Burns. "That number is almost unfathomable."
In New York State alone, approximately 7 tons of prescription drugs were collected - nearly a half-ton of that was collected in the North Country, said Burns.
"So, there's quite a bit of this stuff out here," he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Burns said initial tallies showed 26,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs were collected, 22,500 pounds of which collected from the Albany region north. In the North Country specifically, approximately 574 pounds were collected.
"We literally did over twice what we did six months ago,"saidBurns. "I think when we get the national figures in a few days, we'll far exceed what we collected last year nationwide."
The reason for the push on the collection of prescription drugs by the DEA and other agencies is because the number of illegal drug busts is increasingly related to those possessing medications that were originally purchased for valid uses.
The drugs end up on the streets after being stolen during home invasions and even by family members of those taking prescription medications, said Burns. More often than most would think, he said, cases involve children swiping medications from their parents or even grandparents by going into their medicine cabinets.