Rockville Centre will receive a medication collection box as part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Drug Take-Back Program. The box, a secure container where residents can discard unused or unwanted medications, will be the second of its kind in the village.
Ryan Medical Pharmacy, on the campus of Mercy Medical Center — at 2000 N. Village Ave., suite 107 — will house the new bin. It was one of 172 pharmacies, hospitals and long-term care facilities selected for the second round of the state’s program, which is designed to improve public health and reduce safety risks. The pharmacy is expected to receive the box in May.
Mark Uy, supervising pharmacist at Ryan Medical Pharmacy, applied to receive the box, and said he believes it will give customers a sense of comfort. “There’s a lot of people who don’t know what to do with their unwanted medications,” Uy said. “People get the medication here, so they could return it here as well.”
A box of this kind already exists just inside the door of the Rockville Centre Police Department’s headquarters on Maple Avenue. It was placed there last March through a partnership with CVS Pharmacy to rid the community of unwanted medications that may otherwise be diverted, abused or contaminate the water supply.
No questions are asked about the medication being dropped off, and people who visit the station to dispose of their drugs remain anonymous, police said.
“We have seen an inordinate amount of narcotics being dropped off with us; much more than I ever thought,” said Rockville Centre Police Department Commissioner Charles Gennario. “That’s a good thing. We’re getting them off the streets.
More than 290 pounds of medication were collected last year, according to Glenn Quinn, the department’s executive officer inspector. Although uncertain of how much of them are narcotics, Quinn said that even non-narcotics getting discarded is “helpful towards the entire drug outlook in the community.”
Rockville Centre resident Elizabeth Boylan said she has dumped unwanted medication in the bins on a number of occasions. Before that, she waited for the village’s bi-annual Drug Take-Back Day to dispose of medication.
In 2015, after her father died, she said she was left with 200 Oxycontin pills that were prescribed to her late mother. Boylan, a member of Rockville Centre’s Coalition for Youth, had no idea what to do with the abundance of high-risk pain relievers until the event, held at the police department bi-annually.
“This was a godsend,” Boylan said. “I was able to dispose of the poison at their drop box. Without that, I’m not sure how I would have disposed of them. Probably the old fashioned way, down the toilet.”
It is unsafe for the village’s water supply for residents to flush drugs down the toilet or empty them into the sink, according to police. Boylan now regularly visits the police department, where the now-permanent bin resides, to dispose of any unused medications she finds in her house, including leftover cough medicine.
“It’s better destroyed then in homes where it could bring harm to people,” said Ruthanne McCormack, project coordinator of the Coalition for Youth. The contents in the drop box are usually incinerated and neutralized with chemicals if necessary. According to McCormack, 60 pounds were collected last December and 90 pounds were dropped off in January.
The Coalition has distributed flyers to inform residents of the drop box location, what it is designed for and why it is important, and they are available at local pharmacies. The group handed out about a thousand in August and made more earlier this month to be handed to customers with their orders, McCormack said, because, as the flyer states, “Every day is Drug Take-Back Day.”