At the Take Back the Circle medication collection event Friday on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, success could be measured in pounds.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill joined the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Covanta Indianapolis to collect unused, unwanted or expired medications from passersby.
Standing next to an increasingly heavy black trash bag, Hill said a similar event in Salem the previous day had collected over 130 pounds of prescriptions.
“I would expect judging from the time we’ve been here so far this morning and the bags that we’ve collected that this will be a pretty healthy haul today,” he said.
According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 70 percent of juveniles who admit to abusing prescription drugs say they received them from family or friends.
Hill said the point of these collections was to give people the opportunity to safely dispose of drugs before they fell into the wrong hands.
“If those drugs are not here with us to be destroyed, guess where they are. They’re in someone’s cabinet, someone’s home, ready and available for someone to divert for their personal use,” he said.
Hill said on top of that, there could be civil and even criminal liability for those who fail to properly secure their prescriptions.
“It’s just a dangerous situation all around,” he said. “To the extent that people are being reckless and negligent, that would be a case-by-case situation in which we would determine if there’s any potential liability.”
Since Covanta launched its Prescription for Safety Program in 2010, the company has destroyed more than 4 million pounds of unwanted medications.
Bindi Kean, business manager for Covanta Indianapolis, said the company does not inventory the medications collected before they are incinerated. She said law enforcement agencies, in this case IMPD, instead weigh the trash bags beforehand.
“Law enforcement just brings these trash bags. We don’t go through it. It’s no questions asked,” she said. “(The officers) stay with the drugs until they’re fed directly into our combustion chamber.”
Kean said Covanta Indianapolis will conduct a similar collection event April 21 at the Earth Day Indiana Festival at Military Park in Indianapolis.