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Pharmacies join effort to dispose of unused painkillers

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media
Delaware Senator Chris Coons tests out the drug drop-off box in Wilmington's Concord Pike Walgreens this week.

Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, but some First State pharmacies are getting a head start.


Delawareans can now drop off unused medications at six Walgreens pharmacies across the First State. Previously, the bins could only be found inside police stations.

This addition - bins inside the pharmacies - is the latest effort to curb opioid overdose deaths in Delaware, and applauded by state officials like state Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware) this week.

“I don’t think I was aware of how many young people end up getting access to – or addicted to – prescription medication by visiting and pilfering from the bathroom closets of their friends and neighbors.” said Coons.

Director of Delaware’s Division of Public Health Karyl Rattay says prescription drugs are often a gateway to other drugs. 8 out of 10 new heroin users start with prescription opioids.

That’s why she emphasized the need to dispose of them safely.

“Any time that you are prescribed an opioid – or someone in your family is – once you’re done using it, get rid of it as soon as possible.," said Rattay. "Why this is important? We know that about 75% of opiate prescription drugs that are misused out there, are actually diverted drugs meaning they’re being used for non-medical reasons.”

Delawareans are encouraged to dispose of unused medicines in these special metal bins, instead of throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet.


“All of us have prescription medications that we’re not using, that we should go through and take out of our drug cabinets at home and take to these places up and down the state of Delaware that offer a secure opportunity for us to return them and for them to be safely and securely destroyed,” said Coons.


A full list of permanent sites for drug drop-off bins can be found here.

Bins can also be found at a few nursing homes like Heritage at Dover Assisted Living and Shipley Manor Nursing Home - as well as at medical centers like Christiana Care Surgical Center in Newark, the Wilmington VA Medical Center and the CVS on Lighthouse Road in Selbyville - but only on Saturday, the official Drug Take-Back Day.


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