Program will help dispose of unused, expired drugs

The Maui News

Maui County residents will soon be able to dispose of their unused and expired medication at any of the Maui Police Department’s stations as part of a new statewide program aimed at reducing Hawaii’s “alarming rate” of opioid-related overdoses and deaths, officials said Monday.

Lt. Gov. Doug Chin announced the collaboration with state, county and federal agencies, as providing a more convenient and safe way for residents to get rid of their old prescription drugs. The Hawaii Medication Drop Box Program includes the Department of the Attorney General, Health Department, Public Safety, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the state’s four police departments.

“This is a game-changer for a serious public health issue,” Chin said in a news release. “We’re being proactive and making it easier to remove dangerous drugs from our homes, schools and streets 365 days a year.”

Acting Lt. John Sang, Maui police spokesman, said Monday that the drop boxes will be open to the public soon, but could not give a definitive timeline. He said a formal announcement would be made in the next couple of days.

Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said in the news release that the program will be particularly helpful to Maui’s tri-isle county. The county has already received six steel drop boxes for its six stations, which will be bolted into place and accessible to the public.

“With the increasing problem of opioid abuse throughout the nation, we believe this proactive approach to addressing this epidemic will help our communities avoid the horrible effects of opioids,” Faaumu said.

The drop boxes will be located at:

• Wailuku Station at 55 Mahalani Street (placed within Receiving Desk Lobby)

• Lanai Station at 855 Fraser Avenue, Lanai City (front lobby)

• Hana Station at 4611 Hana Highway, Hana (location to be finalized)

• Lahaina Station at 1850 Honoapiilani Highway, Lahaina (front lobby)

• Molokai Station at 110 Ainoa Street, Kaunakakai (location to be finalized)

• Kihei Station at 2201 Piilani Highway, Kihei (front lobby)

Each drop box is made of 14-gauge powder-coated steel and weighs 150 pounds, according to the news release. They measure 61 inches tall, 21.5 inches wide and 22 inches deep. Police departments are implementing the program on their respective islands according to their policies.

The program also hopes to deter the public from discarding expired medicine in the trash or down the toilet, which could hurt the environment. Proper disposal helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering the water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

The program will supplement, not replace, the national drug take-back events that state and federal law enforcement hold twice a year, according to the news release. From 2010 to 2017, nearly 30,500 pounds of prescription drugs were collected here and disposed of safely. 

Last year, Gov. David Ige began a statewide opioid initiative to prevent the alarming rate of opioid-related overdoses and deaths seen in other states. The multi-agency collaboration resulted in an action plan, which included implementing a drop box program. 

“The DEA applauds the efforts that the State of Hawaii has made to offer year-round medication drop-boxes,” said John Callery, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Honolulu District Office. “This is another step in the right direction to thwart our nation’s opioid crisis in our communities here in Hawaii. Mahalo to the Governor’s Office and our law enforcement leadership for spearheading this outstanding initiative.”

For more information about the Hawaii Medication Drop Box Program, visit health.hawaii.gov/substance-abuse.

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