Area police report drug take back event successful

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of unused or unwanted prescription drugs were dropped off at police stations in Kennewick and Walla Walla as part of a national Take Back Day, officials said.

Agencies were drop-off locations Saturday for the four-hour event that provided a safe way to dispose of expired or unused prescription drugs.

Kennewick police Capt. Scott Child said he was amazed by the number of unwanted drugs people had in their homes. He didn't have the specific number of pills collected immediately available on Monday, but he did say they filled five large tote boxes and estimated the drugs were worth $150,000 to $200,000.

"I thought it was going to be a complete waste of time," Child admitted. "I figured we'd be lucky to get a trash bag full of drugs, but I'm telling you there were people waiting (for the station to open) and it was a constant flow of traffic."

Walla Walla police collected 103 pounds of prescription drugs.

Child said the Take Back Day, which was organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration, identified a "huge, huge issue" that people having trying to find ways to get rid of their prescription drugs.

The majority of people who dropped off drugs were elderly residents who had a spouse die of cancer and had cartons full of old, potent prescriptions, he said.

Hospitals and pharmacies aren't allowed to take controlled substances, and neither are police departments, Child said. Many also said they didn't feel comfortable just throwing them away.

"There were so many relieved people. Some brought medication in from 1999," Child said. "It did identify a problem. Obviously this is an issue. Everybody who came in said, 'Hey, we haven't been able to get rid of it.' "

Kennewick and Walla Walla police officials say they're hoping to make the prescription drug take back event an annual or even more frequent event.