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Insight from WFPD: City participates in prescription drug take back program

The West Fargo Police Department is now a receiving point for the Prescription Drug Take Back Program sponsored by the North Dakota Attorney General's Office. The program is meant to remove unwanted and outdated prescription medication from the community. A secure drop box is located in the police department lobby at 800 4th Ave E, West Fargo. Business hours are 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. every day.

Pills and capsules may be left in their original package or they may be placed in a plastic bag for drop off. You are not required to remove labels from medication containers. Liquids must remain in a liquid tight container. Plastic bags are also provided at the secure drop box location. Instructions are posted in the lobby and personnel of the police department can assist you. Medication collected through the Take Back Program is destroyed through incineration.

Safe handling and disposal of prescription medications is a multifaceted issue. Abuse of prescription medication is a growing concern among teens and young adults. Reports of young people trading their medications or using medications prescribed to another are increasing. A criminal act called 'diversion' involves the theft and sale of prescription medications. The thefts occur in both commercial and residential settings and may involve family members and friends. There are serious medical implications with the misuse of any medication. Medication prescribed to the user should be taken only as directed and should be destroyed when no longer required.

Using outdated medications is equally as serious. Most medications have a usable shelf life. The expiration date is an indication of the end date a medication is safe to use. After the expiration date has passed, the medication may break down and become ineffective or may have changed chemical composition and become harmful to the user.

Past recommendations have been to throw old medications in the garbage or to flush them down the toilet. Scientific studies now show these disposal methods are harmful to the environment. In February 2009, Sara Forness, an Environmental Science teacher at West Fargo High School, and her class presented a study to the West Fargo City Commission. Forness indicated trace amounts of popular medications and antibiotics were being found in ground water, streams and lakes. The study showed how the presence of the chemicals in the water was affecting development of several species of aquatic life. The study also made a link between past disposal methods and increased resistance to antibiotics of some germs, viruses and bacteria.