“It went great,” said Deputy Rudy Lovato, who worked the program on April 30 at the Mountain House District Office collection site with five volunteers from the University of the Pacific pharmacy program.
“It was surprising,” he said. “We had about 25 pounds turned in. People came from everywhere, not just locals, people from out of the area.”
In addition to Mountain House, he said, residents also came from Tracy, Livermore and several from Brentwood.
Across San Joaquin County, the program netted 104.5 pounds of prescription pills, filling 10 boxes of pills, several canisters of drugs in liquid form and bio hazardous materials, such as syringes containing medications, Lovato said. All of the drugs came from collection sites at Mountain House, Lockford and two in the city of Stockton, and all of it was disposed of at a federal site in Sacramento.
Since it was Mountain House’s first time taking part in the program, General Manager Paul Sensibaugh said they were glad to have it.
“I think it’s a good program,” Sensibaugh said. “Worthwhile. Look forward to it next year.”
Now in its second year nationwide, the program is coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This year, they brought in 376,593 pounds of unwanted medications across the nation at 5,361 take back sites, DEA officials said.
The strong turnout, Lovato said, is due to people not knowing what to do with their expired prescriptions. He said they don’t want to flush the pills down the toilet and many told him they were fearful of putting the drugs in their trash because of all the people digging through containers for recyclables.
“They were afraid someone might see them and take them, injuring themselves and hurting themselves,” Lovato said. “You can’t just go to pharmacy to ask them to dispose of them for you, they can’t do that. Never know where they can end up.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Les Garcia said this year’s take-back program gave residents the chance to clean out their medicine cabinets and bathrooms. By getting rid of the unwanted drugs, he said it also kept them out of the hands of teenagers, who reportedly like to take them and share them at parties.
“It was extremely successful, and we look forward to doing it again in the near future,” Garcia said. “We want to do it annually.”