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Drug Take-Back Day offers safe option to dispose of expired medicine

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DERRY TWP., DAUPHIN CO., Pa. -- Prescription drugs when used as directed are not illegal, but they do have an expiration date. Some may wonder what to do with those drugs when no longer needed.This weekend is a chance for everyone to go through the medicine cabinet and check for expired medication.

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

It may seem like the easiest thing to do is flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash, but that's not the best or safest thing to do.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center In-patient Pharmacy Manager Kimberly Cimarelli said ""so that it doesn't go into the water system, or onto the trash where some of these medications have needless or syringes, and they could hurt the trash collectors, pets and other people.""

While prescriptions are legal, Mazzitti and Sullivan Facilities Director Andrew Schmitt said there comes a time when we should get rid of them.

"That can be all the way up to 25 to 40 percent of adolescents or young people that report abusing prescription medications report, or state that they'll get it from their homes or local medicine cabinets," Schmitt said.

The Penn State Hershey Medical Center will provide a temporary drive up location to drop off any expired medications.

"This is our second time we're doing this. Last year we collected 140 lbs. of meds, and we also had 10 to 12 large bio-hazard containers that we filled with needles and syringes," Cimarelli said.

"All substance use has a potential to be harmful, and even though substance or a medication was prescribed at one time. If it's no longer being taken as prescribed, it's not OK for them to go back to that, Schmitt said.

Making sure these prescription drugs don't end up in the wrong hands, is also a concern for Pennsylvania state troopers.

Trooper Rob Hicks said "over 50 percent of the drugs that are abused by people actually come from friends or family, so getting these drugs out of people's homes that are unwanted is very important."

"I think this program, in as much as it can be really really helpful for young people, it's probably as much or even more so important for the parents," Schmitt said.

State police around Pennsylvania will have several drop off locations for those old prescription drugs, but the Penn State Hershey Medical Center is the only location that will take needles and syringes.

A list of drop-off locations can be found here.