Philemon St. Amant had a bagful of prescription medication he no longer needed, but he had trouble finding a way to get rid of it.
So he took it to Ochsner Health Center off O’Neal Lane on Saturday at part of the fifth National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
“They told me I can’t flush them down the toilet, and my cabinets are getting too full,” St. Amant said.
St. Amant, 70, brought blood pressure and pain medication, among other prescription drugs. He said he was thankful for the opportunity to dispose of the unwanted medicine safely after his pharmacies said they wouldn’t take it.
“I’m 70 years old, so I’ve got lots of medicine,” St. Amant said.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is hosted twice a year by the Drug Enforcement Administration in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies. It is a chance for people to discard any unwanted, unused or expired prescription medicine without being asked any questions.
“Abuse of prescription drugs is a serious threat to the safety of the people of Louisiana,” Col. Mike Edmonson, State Police superintendent, said in a news release. “We are asking the citizens of Louisiana to help us properly dispose of these drugs so we can eliminate the risk that they pose to our children and our families.”
The East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police both participated in Saturday’s nationwide event. The Sheriff’s Office collected medicine at Ochsner, and State Police took in medicine at its Troop A headquarters on Highland Road.
Sheriff’s deputies collected between 40 and 45 pounds of medication at the Ochsner site, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said.
“It’s great to know that almost 45 pounds of drugs that were sitting in homes are now going to be safely disposed of,” Hicks said.
State Police did not have any estimates on Saturday of its collection total.
DEA-operated sites amassed about 276 tons of prescription drugs in April 2011 and about 775 tons total in its four previous Take Back Day events, Hicks said.
People turning in prescription medications are not asked to fill out paperwork or give their names. At Ochsner on Saturday, people weren’t even required to get out of their cars.
Sheriff’s deputies poured the discarded medication into a plastic garbage bag fitted into a box about 2 feet tall and wide. Saturday’s collection would be taken to a DEA facility for proper disposal, said Andy Boothe, pharmacy director at Ochsner.
Ochsner has participated in the event at least four times, usually taking in one box containing 10 to 15 pounds of discarded medication, Boothe said.
By about noon Saturday, the Ochsner station had collected about two such boxes of medication. “Today, we’re having a much better turnout,” Boothe said. “It looks like we’re going to exceed that.”
Vickie Buchmann, 65, brought a couple of small bags full of prescription medication from an old roommate of hers, whom Buchmann said died a few years ago after a battle with cancer.
Buchmann said she wanted to dispose of the drugs last year, but was out of town when the previous Take Back Day was held.
“I didn’t want to flush them,” Buchmann said. “I really didn’t know what to do with them. So it worked out.”