The district attorney’s office is urging Hidalgo County residents with unused prescription pills to safely dispose of them Saturday on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
The bi-annual event, held in multiple cities across Hidalgo County, runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s effort to prevent drug abuse, addiction and fatal overdoses.
“… (H)elping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way our local law enforcement agencies are working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications …” reads the proclamation Hidalgo County Commissioners Court passed Tuesday to mark the national event.
Since the agency launched the initiative in 2010, which occurs every April and October, it has collected more than 9.9 million pounds of unwanted or expired over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications from disposal sites.
Rio Grande Valley residents disposed of approximately 2,230 pounds of prescription drugs on the most recent take back day in April of this year, according to Criminal District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr.
The majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends’ homes, said Rudy Maldonado, DEA assistant special agent in charge of the Rio Grande Valley.
“I really don’t know if people really understand the crisis that we’re having with drug abuse right now,” he said during commissioner’s court. “To put it into perspective, on Sept. 11, 2001, 2,996 people died on one day. Right now 200 people on average … are dying daily (of drug overdose). It would take 15 days for us to come up with the same amount of people that died in 2001.”
Last year, 72,000 people nationwide died of drug overdoses, Maldonado added.
The following Hidalgo County collection sites will be open Saturday and the disposal service is free and anonymous:
>> Mission Fire Station No. 3, 1804 N Shary Road.
>> Hidalgo County Constable Precinct No. 4 Office, 1051 N. Doolittle Road, Edinburg.
>> Office Depot, 5115 N. 10th St., McAllen.
>> Peter Piper Pizza, 2311 S. Cage St., Pharr.
>> Junior’s Grocery Store, 108 E. Farm-to-Market Rd. 495, San Juan.
>> The Edinburg, Alamo, Donna, Weslaco, Palmview, Alton and La Joya Police Departments and the McAllen ISD Police Department.
>> Collection sites will be open in Starr County at Lacks at 2500 E. U.S. Hwy 83 in Rio Grande City and in Cameron County at Harlingen’s Valle Vista Mall and Brownsville’s Sunrise Mall.