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Changes in trends observed at drug convention

May 8, 2011

Diane Colgan, staff pharmacist at Elk Regional Health Center, left, and Elk County Sheriff Jeff Krieg, right, are shown sorting through various medications that were dropped off at the unwanted household medicines collection held by the county at Elk Regional Health Center on Saturday morning. Both Colgan and Krieg assisted with the event. Photo by Becky Polaski.

The first of two medicine collections scheduled to be held this year by the Elk County Recycling Office took place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Education Center at Elk Regional Medical Center in St. Marys. Over 60 individuals had dropped off medicine by 11 a.m., a figure that Elk County Recycling/Solid Waste Coordinator Bekki Titchner was pleased with. She said she was also happy with the turnout, particularly since the sun was shining in Elk County on Saturday morning after a few weeks of rainy weather.
"People are probably wanting to do something other than bring us their medicine," Titchner joked.
On a more serious note, she explained that individuals from other counties, as well as area residents, had disposed of medications at the collection, and she indicated that she was starting to see a change in the age of medicines being disposed of at the events, which are held twice annually.
"As opposed to the first few times we collected [medicines over the years,] we're seeing more recent medicine. I think the oldest medicine I saw was from like 2005, which isn't too bad. For the most part, [the medications are] either current or recently expired," Titchner said.
She added that many full or partially full containers of medicine were received during the event.
"Titchner noted that she and the other volunteers assisting with the collection had also changed how they were keeping track of data related to the materials being dropped off.
"We're not logging in everything like we did for the first four collections. We are doing an aggregate of how many non-controlled prescription meds we get, how many over-the-counter meds we get, and by federal law we have to log in the controlled stuff," Titchner said.
All of the controlled medications were turned over to Elk County Sheriff Jeff Krieg, who was also assisting with the event.
"A controlled [medication] is something that has the ability to be addictive, and there are a couple hundred controlled medicines. A lot of it is painkillers. The majority of what we get are painkillers," Titchner said.
She further explained that, following the collection, Krieg takes all of the controlled substances to a facility to be incinerated.
The non-controlled and over-the-counter medicines received during the collection are taken by a representative from the organization the county contracts with for the collection and are disposed of in a hazardous waste incinerator.
Looking forward, Titchner remarked that she plans to continue holding the medicine collections for the foreseeable future.

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