In the parking lot of the Herndon Police department sits a drug collection bin by CVS Health. It serves as an environmentally and socially responsible drug disposal site, easily accessible to the public.
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
While drug disposal programs are commonly offered at cities and towns across the nation multiple times a year, here in Herndon, there is no need to wait for a special collection day. CVS Health launched its CVS/pharmacy Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program through a grant initiative in which the company distributed drug collection bins to police departments and municipalities so they could set up local drug disposal programs. One of the CVS Health drug disposal bins is located in the parking lot of the Herndon Police Station located at 397 Herndon Parkway, Suite 300.
If drugs are flushed down the toilet or through the sink, most of the chemicals pass through local treatment plants or septic systems and can end up in nearby streams and rivers.
According to CVS Health, their specialized drug disposal units meet federal requirements to collect and securely store prescription medications, including those considered “controlled substances," drugs that have the potential for abuse or dependence and are highly regulated by law enforcement agencies.
Eileen Howard Boone, the CVS/pharmacy senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, stated, ‘The first 100 bins collected nearly 6,500 pounds of old medications in their first six months of use.” The goal of the initiative, Boone said, is to award 1,000 drug collection bins to local governments across the U.S.
Ten to thirty percent of all prescription and over-the-counter drugs sold are left unconsumed, according to a State of Washington report, and all those leftover medications pose significant risks to public health and the environment. If unused medications are stored in the medicine cabinet, this can lead to possible drug misuse and abuse.
A 2018 study by the Washington State Department of Health, cited home medicine cabinets have become the new drug dealer. Over half of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, often without their knowledge.
Based on data available for analysis on April 3, 2018, the National Center for Health Statistics disclosed the results of a 12 month-provisional count of drug overdose deaths in Virginia. Findings revealed a continuous upswing in reported deaths for the last few years. For the 12 month period ending September 2015, there were 1,009 counts of drug overdose deaths, September 2016, 1,260, and in 2017, 1431 deaths noting 2017's number is likely underreported due to incomplete data.
Comparing the number of deaths by overdose to highway fatalities, the Virginia Highway Safety Office reported in their 2017 Virginia Traffic Crash Facts, 843 persons died in single and multi-vehicle crashes. This number is slightly more than half the number of individuals who died in Virginia during the same period from drug overdoses.
The CVS Drug Disposal bin is located directly in front of the Herndon Police Station. It’s open to the public 24 hours a day.