CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state attorney general will partner with local law enforcement in the fight against the prescription drug abuse epidemic by working to expand access to secure medication disposal sites.
Patrick Morrisey said in a statement he would soon send a letter to police agencies in each county offering the opportunity to apply for their own permanent prescription drug disposal boxes.
Though multiple drug take back events are held each year in the state, Morrissey said more drug disposal boxes could spur people to clean out their medicine cabinets and keep those prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands.
The last nationwide take back event, held in October, netted 4,976 pounds (or 2.48 tons) of unwanted or expired medications in a four-hour period in West Virginia. Authorities collected 4,642 pounds of medications months earlier in April.
Some police departments already have permanent drug drop-off boxes. The Putnam Sheriff's Office opened the secure box to the public in October. That bin took in about 86 pounds of unwanted or expired prescription medications during the last drug take back event in October.
The drop-off box is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
"Fighting our state's prescription drug abuse epidemic is everyone's responsibility, and by making more drug disposal boxes accessible to all West Virginians, more people may clean out their medicine cabinets and prevent their unwanted medications from ending up in the wrong hands," Morrisey said.
Millions of pounds of prescription medications are left unused each year, according to the release. About 70 percent of new prescription drug abusers got pills from a friend or relative for free or took them without asking, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"We should all be concerned with how easily people are able to get their hands on these prescription drugs, and it's a reminder that any measures we take as a state to fight our drug abuse epidemic must include plans to ensure these medications are disposed of securely and safely," Morrisey said.
"Our office has hosted a collection site here at the Capitol in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Division of Protective Services for the past several years.
"Now we're looking to expand on that success across West Virginia and really encourage people to safely dispose of their drugs."