Law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area recently held events where the public could turn in expired or unwanted prescription medication. The events were part of Florida’s recent efforts to crack down on prescription drug abuse.
Hundreds of people showed up and dropped off over 1,500 pounds of pills at 13 Tampa-area locations, according to officials. Anyone was welcome to drop off medication with no questions asked. The initiative, called Operation Medicine Cabinet, is a national program sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In Pinellas County, the sheriff’s office teamed up with seven other agencies to collect over 800 pounds of pills.
Lawmakers are trying to counter Florida’s reputation as home to the most “pill mills” in the nation’s epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse. In the past two years, they have passed laws strictly regulating the dispensing of Oxycontin and other painkillers and implemented a statewide prescription drug database. The database is intended to record every sale of the pills in order to track abusers, dealers, and unscrupulous doctors.
A similar pill disposal effort in the Cincinnati area earlier this year collected a staggering 3½ tons of pills. Ohio lies near the middle of the so-called Oxycontin Express, a route by which the widely-abused painkiller is illegally distributed. The route starts in Florida and goes north along Interstate 75 all the way to Canada.
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