LIers urged to safely dispose unused drugs

A file photo of Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas

A file photo of Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale, left, and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in Mineola. (March 5, 2012) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Law enforcement, government officials and community groups from across Long Island gathered in Nassau this week to exchange ideas on drug reclamation efforts, in advance of Saturday's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

"Unused or expired medications do not belong in your bathroom medicine cabinet, where countless people have access," Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said.

At a 90-minute forum Thursday sponsored by Mangano and Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, through their Heroin Prevention Task Force, officials discussed ways to provide residents with safe venues to turn in unused or expired painkillers and other medications.

Participants included officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, county and village police departments, hospitals and the Hempstead Town program Stop Throwing Out Pollutants, which is designed to ensure safe disposal of toxic household materials.

Gaetano DiPasquale, special agent with the DEA's Long Island district office, stressed that reclamation projects that accept controlled substances must involve police personnel, in order to secure the drugs. "Not too many police departments are being robbed," he quipped.

Assistant Nassau District Attorney Rene Fiechter, who chaired the forum, noted that a recent reclamation project by 14 small pharmacies on Suffolk's East End had limited its program to noncontrolled drugs only.

Besides saving lives by putting many opiate medications out of the reach of those who might use them illegally, reclamation projects also prevent such drugs from being flushed down toilets and reaching local waterways, said Susan Eckert, an aide to Suffolk Legis. Lynne Nowick (R-St. James).

Prescription drugs can be turned in Saturday at 45 sites on Long Island, including all Nassau and Suffolk county police precincts.

To find a list of sites, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.

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