Pelham Police looking to rid city of unused prescriptions

Published 5:13 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What was once viewed as a cabinet filled with left-over medications and prescriptions has been turning into a big problem for Pelham residents and the city’s Police Department.

Over the past several years, the medicine cabinet has been fueling a rash of pharmaceutical controlled-substance abuse cases in Pelham and across the state.

“With the crack-down on drugs nowadays, some people are mixing it up and going to other sources for drugs,” said Pelham Police Capt. Larry Palmer. “It’s just so easy for people to have access to pharmaceuticals.”

When someone has surgery or undergoes a medical or dental procedure, their physician often writes them a prescription for pain killers.

While pain killers are often necessary to combat post-medical-procedure aches, many people do not take their entire prescription, and end up leaving a half-filled bottle of Loritab or Xanax sitting in their medicine cabinets.

“A lot of the drugs that are involved in pharmaceutical-abuse cases are supplied out of the house, whether people realize it or not,” Palmer said. “A lot of times, people don’t want to use all of their prescriptions, so there’s usually some surplus left in their houses.

“That leaves it open for house cleaners, children or people just walking through the house to pick them up,” Palmer added. “We created the monster, because pain killers are often necessary after medical procedures. But we need to be smart about them.”

The Pelham Police Department is teaming up with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to offer a “take-back” day Sept. 25 at the police department from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

During the event, local residents can bring unused or old pharmaceuticals and other medicines to the department, and police will hand the medicines over to the DEA to be disposed of, no questions asked.

The department will accept controlled, non-controlled and over-the-counter substances, and will not ask any questions or request identification from anyone who drops off substances.

“This is just an effort to help further the cause,” Palmer said. “We don’t actually touch anything that is dropped off. We just collect it, seal it up and the DEA picks it up and destroys it.”

However, the event will not cover intravenous solutions, injectible substances, syringes or illicit substances like marijuana or methamphetamine.

“If someone is dumb enough to bring their crystal meth or marijuana to the police station, we’ll take it, but we may have to ask some questions at that point,” Palmer said with a laugh.

For more information about the take-back day, visit, or call the Pelham Police Department at 620-6550.