The Positive Community Impact Coalition and the Brownsville Police Department created prescription drug dropoff boxes for the community to properly dispose of their expired medications.
“Our prescription drop box was part of our environment strategy, which aims to reduce access to the prescription medications to our young adults and our children in the community,” Coalition Coordinator Alexandra Ybarra said.
Ibarra said most of the time parents or guardians have expired prescription medication in their home, and children can sometimes take those drugs and experiment with them.
“The Brownsville community has been experiencing a lot of drug abuse,” Ybarra said. “We’ve been getting reports from the high schools, from the police department, that a lot of teenagers are abusing medications such as Zanax, (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) medications like the Ritalin (and) Vyvanse. They’re selling these medications amongst each other, and a lot of times kids don’t realize the side effects that come with it.”
The prescription drop box will be located in the Brownsville PD’s Main Station on Jackson Street and will be open 24 hours a day to drop off unwanted or expired medications. Boxes also will be located from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the BPD’s US-281 location and Southmost Boulevard location.
Only pills are allowed in the box. Syringes and liquids will not be accepted.
Commander Henry Etheridge said once the prescription drop boxes get full, the medications will be properly disposed of.
“When the box gets full, we’re going to collect the prescription pills, and then what we’ll do is do our inventory of them (and) paperwork, and then from there and then at some point we’ll be taking them over to the (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which) will be assisting us in getting rid of the prescription drugs,” Etheridge said.
Etheridge said studies have shown that throwing away expired drugs in the trash or the toilet can end up in landfills or the water system.
“It’s not good for the environment, it’s not good for us (and) at some point down in the food chain,” Etheridge said. “We tend to eat whatever we grow … we in turn eventually consume that.”
Commissioner At-Large “B” Rose M.Z. Gowen said there was a grant in place for the prescription drop off boxes and a letter of support was needed from the city commission. Gowen said Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez approached Gowen to support the initiative as a commissioner and a physician.
“Expired medication does not have the effectiveness that unexpired medication has, so you may be thinking you’re taking the right dosage but you’re actually not,” Gowen said. … “Keep your medicines up out of reach of small children. Most of the medications are now dispensed in child protective containers; keep them in those child protective containers rather than put them in a pretty pill box or so forth. Keeping them away and putting in some barriers to easy access are always a good idea.”