Walker County to institute year-round safe disposal box for residents to drop off prescription drugs

Although drug take-back events and programs exist in Huntsville on a semi-annual basis, new measures will provide the first comprehensive, countywide drug collection and disposal program. 

Through a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, officials with Walker County will soon set up a secure pharmaceutical collection box and establish a year-round drug take-back program.

“The issue of proper disposal of unused or expired medications is a serious concern,” H-GAC senior planner Becki Begley said in a letter to the Walker County Sheriff’s Office. Not only the health and safety of the public by reducing chances for abuse and accidental overdose, but also for the health and safety of our waterways and drinking water supplies. Safe and convenient method of disposal should be a priority for residents.”

Officials plan to place the locked, steel collection boxes — similar to a mailbox or bank night depository box — in the lobby of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office, allowing residents one-way access to dispose of unused, expired or unwanted medications in a safe manner.

“This would be the first take-back disposal center in the county,” WCSO captain Tim Whitecotton told the Walker County Commissioners Court on Monday. “This is a growing problem, and anything we can do to take drugs off the street is a good thing.”

Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications — including legally held controlled drugs and narcotics — can be placed in the receptacle box, along with up to four ounces of liquid medication in the original containe. Needles, other medical waste, batteries, pharmacy inventory, Schedule 1 controlled substances and illegal drugs will not be accepted.

Sharps Compliance, a Houston-based company, will be responsible for the disposal of the drugs. The company has placed nearly 3,000 receptacles in the market since 2009. There are currently 35 law enforcement entities in the H-GAC maintaining collection systems.

Officials are expected to install the disposal system over the next few months.