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October 17th, 2019

medsafe disposal ribbon cuttingLiberal Area Coalition for Families Director Sarah Foreman and Liberal Police Department Evidence Supervisor Allison Clark are joined by Police Chief Dennis Mulanax and Chamber Ambassadors in cutting the ribbon on the new MedSafe drug disposal box at the police department Tuesday afternoon. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


People who have expired or unused medications now have a place to safely dispose of them in Liberal.

Tuesday, representatives from Southern Pioneer Electric’s Helping Us Give to Society (HUGS) program presented the Liberal Police Department with a donation to purchase an Elastic Drug Terminator Incinerator.

The $1,500 HUGS donation was matched by CoBank, making a total of $3,000 towards the LPD’s equipment.

Along with the incinerator, the police department also got a MedSafe box for people to drop off medications that are either expired or unused. LPD Evidence Supervisor Allison Clark said Tuesday’s presentation started with the need for an on-site incinerator for the police department.

“We applied for a HUGS grant, which we were recently granted,” she said. “With that money, along with money from the city prosecutor, we were able to purchase the on-site drug incinerator. With that, we wanted to have a disposery box where we could have people safely dispose of their medications. We have a location for the public to safely dispose of their medications, and we will use the incinerator to dispose of those medications.”

Clark said she was excited the LPD was granted funds and more than surprised when the department received the matching funds from CoBank.

“We had applied with HUGS a few years ago for our Shop With A Cop program, and they are always a great group to work with,” she said.

Anita Wendt, a representative for the HUGS program, said supporting men and women who protect communities is something Southern Pioneer feels very strongly about.

“With their new equipment, not only are we helping to support the department, but the community as well,” she said.

A ribbon cutting hosted by the Liberal Chamber of Commerce took place for the MedSafe box, and officials with the Liberal Area Coalition for Families, including director Sarah Foreman, were on hand for the presentation.

A large problem, at least among young people, is taking prescription medicines from their parents’ medicine cabinets to parties, creating a danger similar to illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

Foreman said while she is not sure whether having a disposal box would curb this use, she hopes that would be one of the results.

“I think the goal of any MedSafe disposal is to get either prescribed drugs off the streets, out of the wrong hands, and expired medication also not in the water system, not on the streets, not in dumpsters, but safely disposed of and then incinerated,” she said.

Foreman said if the box could cut down on prescription use amongst teens for parties, this would definitely be a bonus.

“At this point, I don’t know how much research is actually behind communities that have this that use has decreased or not, but just letting parents know that this is an alternative to keeping expired medication in the home,” Foreman said. “If it did decrease drug use among the population, that would be fantastic and an added bonus, but we don’t have the research right now that that’s what it says it definitely does.”

Foreman said other dangers of expired and unused medication would be for small children, as well as elderly who may be confused about which type of medication is safe.

“Medication has an expiration date for a purpose, and taking it beyond that expired date obviously decreases the effectivity of it and also the safety of it,” she said.

“Often people don’t know what to do with those expired medications, so this is an avenue and a safe way to dispose of those expired medications,” Clark said. 

Annually, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has its National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative, and law enforcement agencies, including the LPD take part. While this is a good thing, Clark said having a MedSafe box locally allows people to dispose of their unwanted medication at any time.

“You don’t have to wait for the special day of the week,” she said. “You can bring it any day Monday through Friday from 8 to 5.”

“You don’t have to check in with anyone,” Foreman said. “You walk in the door, dispose of your medication, walk out.”

Clark explained the process of what happens to medication bottles after they are put in the MedSafe box.

“After medications have been dropped in the MedSafe container, we will have two employees minimum take the medications from the locked box to the incinerator, and they will be incinerated on the same day,” she said.

Clark said precautions are put in place to guard against any illegal drugs being put in the box.

“There is a list of items that are prohibited on the box themselves, so we hope that those items are not put in the box,” she said. “However, we want all these medications off the streets when they are not being used anymore the correct way. We aren’t necessarily going to know who put the medications in the box.”

Clark encourages everyone to take advantage of the MedSafe box to dispose of medications.

“When have unwanted medication or expired medication, please come to the police department 8 to 5 Monday through Friday and use our new MedSafe container,” she said.

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