Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion This Thursday, April 28, 2016 file photo shows a drop box for prescription drugs sits in the lobby of the Soldotna Police Department in Soldotna, Alaska. Drugs collected through the box are sent to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to be disposed of.

Photo by Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion This Thursday, April 28, 2016 file photo shows a drop box for prescription drugs sits in the lobby of the Soldotna Police Department in Soldotna, Alaska. Drugs collected through the box are sent to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to be disposed of.

Drug take-back day scheduled for Saturday

If central Kenai Peninsula residents have been wondering what to do with their unnecessary or expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs, they need look no further than the Soldotna Professional Pharmacy this weekend.

The pharmacy, located at 299 N. Binkley St. in Soldotna, along with the Soldotna Police Department will accept drugs during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this week, with participation from the Change 4 the Kenai Coalition. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, residents can drop off their unwanted prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, expired vitamins or narcotics, said Kimberly Hansen, a manager at Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

“It’s right outside the front of the pharmacy here,” Hansen said. “You can drive by, you can walk up to it.”

The drug collection day is part of the National Take-Back Initiative coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Administration through the U.S. Department of Justice since 2010. During the most recent national take-back day in April — they happen twice annually — the DEA along with state, local and tribal law enforcement partners collected 893,498 pounds of unwanted drugs, or about 447 tons, according to a May 2016 release about the event on the DEA’s website.

Hansen and Shari Conner, project coordinator for Change 4 the Kenai, stressed that the drug collection is completely anonymous. Those dropping medicine off don’t need to black out their names or take labels off, though they can if they would prefer to, Hansen said.

Drugs collected at the pharmacy and at the Soldotna Police station are taken to the DEA office in Anchorage, where they are disposed of. The Soldotna Police Department also has a permanent drop box for unwanted drugs installed at the station, which is also anonymous. While the Kenai Police Department does not have a drop box, residents can call if they have medicines they would like to drop off.

The collection day is limited in that police cannot accept needles, though Hansen said containers of liquids usually up to 4 ounces can be dropped off.

This is Change 4 the Kenai’s first time being involved in the take-back day, Conner said.

“It’s one of our strategies that we’re working on as a coalition,” she said. “To get as many opiates that people have laying around in their homes disposed of safely.”

The coalition members will conduct prize drawings, she said, and will have surveys people can fill out to be entered into another drawing. The surveys ask what people on the peninsula know about the area’s issues with heroin and other drug abuse, Conner said, as well as what kind of support residents think the community has for efforts in battling those issues.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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