On Saturday, Fort Scottians and visitors from as far as Osawatomie did their part to add to that total as the Bourbon County Sheriff's Department and Mercy Hospital volunteers teamed up from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Mercy Convenient Care, 1624 S. National Ave., to collect the unwanted drugs.
Saturday, 59 pounds of drugs were collected, which were picked up by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday for incineration.
This was the fifth national Drug Take-Back Day and Fort Scott has participated four times.
On April 28, 54 pounds of prescription drugs were dropped off in Fort Scott. Bourbon County Sheriff Ronald Gray said 64 pounds were collected in Fort Scott at the first-ever take back day last year, followed by 81 pounds last fall.
"We are pleased at the response of the American people once again, and we thank them for participating and contributing to the battle against prescription drug abuse," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a news release. "While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities. Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution."
Craig Campbell, Mercy Hospital director of pharmacy, said the DEA sets the date and time for take-backs nationally; then the individual sites are run by local law enforcement.
"The idea is to get medicines that are no longer needed out of the cupboards," Campbell said. "Obviously, the DEA would like a lot of this to be narcotics that can't be abused or misused, but to get those they just take back everything. They take back blood pressure pills, inhalers and you name it; they will take it back no questions asked."
"This keeps them away from the people they don't belong to, like children and others who might abuse them," Gray added.
Campbell said residents who didn't know what to do with old prescriptions have dropped off drugs from deceased relatives. He added the Drug Take-Back is a more environmentally friendly method of disposing of prescriptions than flushing them down the toilet.
"These will actually be incinerated in an EPA-approved medical waste incinerator," Campbell said.
Campbell said they had a good response on Saturday, when cars could simply drive through to drop off their unwanted prescriptions.
He added he became aware of the program through a University of Kansas student with whom he worked. He was intrigued enough to get online to research the program and then called Gray to tell him about the event. Fort Scott got on board for the second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in the spring of 2011.
Gray said the don't ask, don't tell policy helps people feel more comfortable when dropping the drugs off.
"You have so many regulations anymore, people are scared," Gray said. "Here you don't even have to take the name off the bottle, nobody looks and nobody cares. The only thing we don't want are needles. We can take the syringes, but no needles."
Gray said he thinks the program is important to communities.
"It's something we should have been doing a long time ago and we will continue doing it. We've gotten a real positive response," Gray said.
He said the drugs were placed into evidence until yesterday when the DEA retrieved them.