Medicine collection effort yields ‘several large barrels’ of drugs


About 100 pounds of Vicodin, codeine and other controlled substances were dropped off at Hennepin County's medicine collection event on Saturday. The sheriff's office released the tallies this week.

The rest of the medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, filled "several large barrels," the sheriff's office reported. Some people even dropped off unused medications for their pets.

Medicine collection events are becoming more common, driven by concerns about pharmaceuticals showing up in drinking water supplies. Hennepin County held its first collection event last year, diverting tens of thousands of pills from being flushed down the toilet or thrown into the trash.

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Disposing of prescription drugs isn't easy, even for law enforcement officials. MPR reporter Stephanie Hemphill provides a detailed look here.

All these drugs -- the controlled substances and the ordinary things like aspirin -- have to be taken all the way to Illinois to be burned. That's because in Minnesota, medicines are classified as hazardous waste, and we don't have a hazardous waste incinerator in the state.

Hennepin County is holding another medicine collection event June 2 at the Richfield Ice Arena from 3-7 p.m. More information is available here.


(Photos courtesy of the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)