Prescription drugs can be safely disposed Saturday in Houston.

The sixth Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Pharmaceutical Drug Take-back event is Saturday, April 27.

Persons can drop off unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Houston Walmart Supercenter and Summersville City Hall. All pharmaceuticals are accepted, including veterinary and over-the-counter drugs. No signatures are required, and no questions are asked.

The event is sponsored by the Houston Police Department, the Missouri Rural Water Association and the Big Piney River Stream Team Watershed Association. For general questions or to create an event for the community, contact petermaki@totorcd.org. For other questions about pharmaceuticals and assistance in their disposal, persons can contact the Houston Police Department at 417-967-3348.

During the last event Sept. 29, 2012, 17,208 pounds of pharmaceutical drugs were collected in Missouri. All pharmaceutical drugs collected were taken to a DEA facility and incinerated.

Pharmaceutical drugs, such as antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones, have been found in the drinking water supplies of 41 million Americans. These drugs have also been discovered in deep underground aquifers of the 24 states tested, Missouri included. According to the Center for Disease Control nearly half of all Americans use prescription drugs on a regular basis. Unused and unwanted drugs are being disposed of in toilets. Public and private wastewater systems are not designed to take these pharmaceuticals out of the water before they are discharged into rivers, streams and lakes.

Organizers said it is no longer an acceptable practice to mash the unwanted drugs, mix them with used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and then throw the mix into the trash. Water testing has found pharmaceutical drugs from leaking landfills. The only acceptable disposal method is leaving the pharmaceuticals at a DEA collection site for incineration.

Law enforcement is interested in seeing unused or unwanted pharmaceutical drugs removed from medicine cabinets. Two times more Americans regularly abuse prescription drugs than the numbers who regularly use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined. Of those 12 and older who abused pain relievers in the past year, the majority (54.2 percent) got them from friends and family for free, including their home medicine cabinets. Another 16.6 percent reported buying or stealing the drugs from friends and family. And 18.1 percent reported obtaining the drugs from a doctor. Only 3.9 percent got them from a drug dealer or stranger and only 0.3 percent (three out of a thousand) bought them on the Internet.

The sponsors want to help everyone get rid of unwanted pharmaceuticals, prevent drugs from getting into the wrong hands by theft or curious children and provide a proper way of disposal.

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