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Drug Take Back Day slated for Oct. 24

WESTFIELD-Unwanted or unused medications may safely be dropped off during a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 24 in the parking lot of the Westfield Senior Center.

The event, planned by the Westfield Police Department and the Westfield Council on Aging, will be conducted from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“The Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), requires that local law enforcement oversee the process,” said Police Chief Lawrence Valliere, adding, “It is our duty to properly secure and dispose of the medication.”

Valliere noted that the “whole point” of the event is to keep unused medication from “getting in the hands of addicts and our vulnerable youth.”

The department will have four officers at the site collecting medication while Council on Aging staff will be distributing COVID-19 Preparedness File of Life packets and medication organizers to seniors who would like them. Information on senior services and programs available during the pandemic will also be offered.

Valliere explained that the DEA supplies the boxes and liners for the collection.

“We keep the chain of custody intact, from the person turning it in until it is properly disposed of,” said Valliere, adding, “Afterwards, the drugs are taken to a central collection site by our officers, who then turn them over to DEA. The drugs are then transported to a contracted disposal company and properly destroyed.”

“We very much have wanted to partner with the WPD on this event and tried to do so at the old senior center,” said Tina Gorman, executive director, Westfield Council on Aging. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have a parking lot there so it wasn’t possible.”

Gorman added that in 2014 a MedReturn box was placed in the lobby of the police station so that unused and unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medications could be properly disposed.
“Until the pandemic hit, the seniors took advantage of that safe disposal option available all day and night, 365 days of the year,” said Gorman.

Gorman said because the door to the police department is now locked and the city’s older adults are following Gov. Charlie Baker’s “safer at home” advisory, participation in the upcoming event is an ideal alternative.

“The Westfield Senior Center parking lot is large enough to accommodate the event, which can be held curbside,” said Gorman.

Prescriptions and medications that can be accepted include pills, patches, ointments, liquids that are tightly sealed, vitamins, samples, and pet medications. Also, vape pens or other e-cigarette devices will be accepted only after the batteries are removed.

Items that cannot be accepted are syringes, intravenous solutions, and illicit substances such as marijuana, according to Gorman.

“It is extremely important for adults to safely dispose of unwanted or unused medications,” said Gorman. “Medications should never be flushed down the toilet or included with the household trash because they will eventually work their way into the water supply where they can be a threat to public health.”

For more information on the event, call the Westfield Senior Center at (413) 562-6435.

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