Houston Police Chief Jim McNiell, left, and Reserve Officer Jeremy St. John stand beside boxes of pharmaceuticals during Saturday's take-back event. 

More than 100 pounds of pharmaceuticals were collected locally during an annual drug take back event in Houston.

Sponsored by the Houston Police Department, Missouri Rural Water Association and Big Piney River Stream Team Watershed Association, citizens turned over 119 pounds of pharmaceuticals in Houston. More than 300 tons were collected nationwide.

“Every 14 minutes someone in America dies from a drug overdose,” said S. Scott Collier of the St. Louis division of the Drug Enforcement Agency. “The vast majority of these are pharmaceutical opiate overdoses –– not heroin, meth or cocaine.  Some are accidental poisonings of children who are too young to understand what they are doing.  By properly securing or disposing unwanted pharmaceuticals you help prevent these accidental poisonings and minimize the supply for teens and others seeking to get high and end up as an OD.”

Water and sewage providers want to see proper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs as water and wastewater facilities are not designed to take pharmaceuticals out of the water. Antibiotics, anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones are found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. Pharmaceuticals have been found in deep underground aquifers of 24 states tested, including Missouri.

Unwanted pharmaceuticals may be turned over to Houston police at their office on South Grand Ave.

“We appreciate everyone’s participation in the pharmaceutical drug take back event and helping keep these drugs out of the hands of children and drug users, as well as out of our water,” Chief Jim McNiell said.

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