Prescription drug program delayed - Tucson News Now

Prescription drug program delayed

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A program to set up prescription drug boxes at Tucson police substations has hit a snag.

The Drug Enforcement Agency has not given its blessing yet.

"I'm not sure why the DEA is taking as long as it is," says Roy Hullgren, Chair of the Drug Addiction, Prevention and Treatment Commission. "But we have to follow proper protocol."

When the approval comes, the commission will install boxes at several Tucson police sub-stations which will be open 24/7.

People who want to dispose of old, unused or unwanted prescription drugs will be able to drop the off in a secure drop box in a secure are of the substation.

Right now, many people flush them down the sink or toilet.

"That causes water contamination," says Hullgren.

It's not a recommended way of disposal.

Other times, they will drop them off at a scheduled event around the valley. Towns, police agencies and other organizations will sometimes hold a weekend event for drop offs.

But that's hit or miss.

Once the public becomes aware they can drop them off at a police substation, they will likely use them, especially if they feel it's secure.

But first, the DEA must give its permission for the program to move forward.

"The DEA is the enforcement over the collection of prescription drugs," Hullgren says. "So they are the ones responsible for the safety of the collections."

The commission must also find a way to pay for the boxes which can run several hundred dollars apiece.

As of now, there are some verbal commitments for help, but without the DEA permission, there's a little sweat.

"We have several groups that indicate they are interested in the funding of those boxes and we're hoping they will follow through once we get the permission from the DEA," he says.

 

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