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Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford Announces Grant for New Drug Take-Back Program in Charles County

Program Is First Government/Pharmacy Partnership of Its Kind in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, MD  Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford today joined Charles County Commissioner President Peter F. Murphy at the county government building in La Plata, to announce the first comprehensive pharmacy “drug take-back” program in the state of Maryland. Lt. Governor Rutherford also announced a $20,215 state grant to support the program.

The goal of the Drug Take-Back Program—a partnership between Charles County and local pharmacies, the State of Maryland, and the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center—is to avoid the stockpiling of medications, including ointments, patches, and capsules, in the home; keep children and water systems safe; and avoid drugs getting into the hands of addicts.

“In Spring 2015, leaders from across Maryland met in Southern Maryland to hear from citizens affected by the heroin and opioid epidemic, as part of our Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force regional meetings, which I had the great honor of leading,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “I am pleased to be back in Charles County today, to help announce additional tools in our statewide fight against the heroin epidemic.”

Until now, residents of Charles County could dispose of their unneeded prescription medications at yearly medication disposal events hosted by the Maryland State Police. Although helpful, this type of infrequent disposal can encourage the practice of stockpiling medications in the home, which provides more opportunities for them to be used either intentionally or accidentally in risky and illegal ways—or disposed of improperly.

Under the new program, MedSafe receptacles will be available in six independent pharmacies throughout the county. The program builds on the Charles County Sheriff’s Department’s two existing medication drop-off sites, and will appeal to residents who prefer not to go to a sheriff’s station to drop off their medications.

“Charles County, like other jurisdictions, has unfortunately experienced a dramatic rise in drug-related deaths as the county’s population continues to grow steadily,” said Charles County Commissioner President Peter F. Murphy. “County residents will benefit from having free, convenient, and secure collection points located throughout the county to dispose of over-the-counter or prescription medications.”

“The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has found that drug take-back programs are critical to public safety and public health,” said Glenn Fueston, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, which administers the grant. “The DEA found that eight out of 10 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers, and moved to heroin when they could no longer obtain or afford those painkillers. This program will help to decrease the number of drug-related crimes and illnesses by reducing accessibility to old, outdated drugs.”