PHARR — There are pills of different colors filling clear plastic bags, ranging from 15 to 22 pounds. Numerous prescription bottles fill a cardboard box. These items were accumulated Saturday by the Pharr Police Department for the 18th National Take Back Day.
The event is held two days (during April and October) of every year and is dedicated to disposing of any unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications.
The last National Take Back Day was held April 27 and accumulated 937,443 pounds (468.72 tons) of medications. Texas took the lead with the largest amount collected of 92,511 pounds, which is almost 10% of the total weight collected nationwide.
The Pharr PD hosted its National Take Back Day at the Peter Piper Pizza located at 2311 S. Cage Blvd.
Arriving at his fourth location, Rudy Maldonado is the assistant special agent in charge for the Rio Grande Valley.
Pharr PD has been holding its event at Peter Piper Pizza for the last few years since it’s located near the station.
“We get a lot of traffic so a lot of people actually see this location. It just stands out,” Maldonado said.
Parked just outside the Peter Piper Pizza, the Pharr PD set up an area for anyone to drop off any unwanted prescriptions. Although the event lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., citizens are still able to turn in prescriptions.
“For people who can’t come in the two days that we have, the majority of the police departments here in the Valley have bins that are set up for pick-up throughout the year. That’s also important,” Maldonado said.
Anyone who missed the opportunity to attend any of the locations that held a National Take Back Day is able to visit www.dea.gov to find the locations nearest to them by entering their address. The website also provides information on drugs as well as specifics on the type of drugs being abused.
“We don’t ask any questions here, just bring them here. It’s confidential and we destroy them properly,” Maldonado said.
Not disposing of unwanted, unused, or expired prescription medications properly can become a threat to the community.
“We don’t want the public to be either throwing them in the trash where somebody could find them or flushing them down the toilet where they may go in our waterways,” Maldonado said. “Most of the teenagers that have abused prescription drugs usually get them straight from the house or a family friend.”
They hold these events to actively put out the information and encourage the public to bring in all unused drugs.
Teenagers abusing prescription medications is one of the biggest reasons they’re out there.
“We want to make sure that the parents and grandparents take those drugs out of the house and allow us to dispose of them properly,” he said.
For more information on drugs and where to dispose of them properly, visit www.dea.gov
National Take Back Day proves to be successful with each passing year as Maldonado adds “I think the public is seeing it, we’re getting a lot more participation. Every year we get a lot more.”