Before locals enter their community Kroger to shop this Saturday, they'll have the opportunity to dispose of expired or unwanted prescription drugs from their medicine cabinets in bins outside the establishment.
As part of the 8th annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Memphis Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials will be present at four different Kroger locations with bins for people to safely and anonymously dispose unwanted, unused prescription drugs this Saturday (April 26th).
The take-back, which heightens the prevention of possible pill abuse and inappropriate distribution, will last from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The four Kroger branches that MPD and DEA officials will be on site at are 3444 Plaza Ave, 3860 Austin Peay Highway, 676 Germantown Parkway, and 7942 Winchester Road. People can also dispose prescription drugs at Emmanuel United Methodist (2404 Kirby Road).
“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” a MPD press release stated. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.”
Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners, according to the MPD. When those results are combined with what was collected in its seven previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills.
MPD spokeswoman Karen Rudolph said illegal prescription drug distribution is prevalent locally. She said the prescription drugs collected Saturday will be weighed and transported to a burn facility out of state and destroyed.
Earlier this month, more than three dozen people involved in a prescription drug-ring were indicted during “Operation Whitehaven Dilaudid Family.” The ring was responsible for illegally distributing large amounts of Dilaudid and other prescription pills throughout the area.
More than 20 of the individuals indicted are facing state drug charges. Another 15 defendants are facing federal drug charges. Charges carry penalties of up to 25 years in prison without parole.
“Many of the 23 defendants indicted on state drug charges are family members whose drug-trafficking operation has been in business for more than 15 years,” Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich said in a press release.
Law enforcement seized 10 vehicles, $53,807 in cash, 111 Dilaudid pills and 154 grams of powder cocaine during the undercover operation.
The MPD’s Organized Crime Unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service executed “Operation Whitehaven Dilaudid Family” collectively.