Continuing the fight against prescription drug abuse, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today expanded “Project Medicine Drop,” a statewide initiative to help everyday citizens join the fight against the abuse of addictive, deadly prescription drugs.

The expansion includes a partnership with Covanta Energy Corporation, a New Jersey-based business that will enable police departments, free of charge, to destroy medications turned in by consumers.  It also includes the installation of new Project Medicine Drop boxes at the Cherry Hill Police Department, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, Lower Township Police Department, and Toms River Police Department – more than doubling the program’s capacity to receive consumers’ unwanted and expired medications.

“Prescription painkiller abuse sends thousands of New Jersey residents into addiction treatment each year, and kills more Americans than cocaine and heroin combined.  We are fighting this problem with targeted investigations and enhanced tools to detect ‘pill mills’ and ‘doctor shopping,’” Attorney General Chiesa said.  “Today, by expanding Project Medicine Drop, we are inviting New Jerseyans to join us in this fight.  At the Cherry Hill Police Department and other sites throughout the state, you can drop off your unused medications safely, securely, and responsibly.”

Under Project Medicine Drop, the Division of Consumer Affairs installs lockable, metal “prescription drug drop boxes” at select New Jersey police departments and sheriff’s offices.  Members of the public are invited to come in and use the boxes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, to dispose of their unused and expired prescription medications.

This simple but important step helps keep excess medications from falling into the hands of those who might abuse them, or sell them for abuse.  It also helps protect the environment – as it keeps harmful medications from being flushed into the water supply.

Also today, Attorney General Chiesa announced Project Medicine Drop is being expanded with the addition of new prescription drug drop boxes at the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, Cherry Hill Police Department, Lower Township Police Department, and Toms River Police Department.  The drop boxes are in place and ready to accept medications from consumers.  The Division’s goal is to place at least one drop box in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties by the end of this year.

“We’re not just helping consumers get excess medications out of their homes.  We are encouraging New Jerseyans to think differently about their prescription medications – including how to use them responsibly and talk to their family members about the dangers of abuse,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said.

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said, “The DEP strongly supports this initiative, which will provide a secure and environmentally sound method of prescription drug disposal, and one that will help protect our water supply.”

The scope of America’s prescription drug abuse problem is staggering:

  • New Jersey in 2010 saw more than 7,000 admissions to State-licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs due to prescription painkiller abuse – a 230 percent increase from 2005.
  • In June 2011, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation reported that a growing number of young people are abusing prescription drugs, and noted a significant trend in which the practice has led to increases, not only in the number of young people addicted to painkillers, but to the number of young people using heroin as well.
  • Every day, 40 Americans die from an overdose caused by prescription painkiller abuse, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Overdoses of opioid prescription drugs now kill more people in the U.S. than heroin and cocaine combined.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported that two in five teenagers mistakenly believe prescription drugs are “much safer” than illegal drugs.