NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) announced they have signed onto “Project Medicine Drop,” an initiative which allows citizens to anonymously discard expired or unused prescription drugs at drop boxes in public buildings.

New Brunswick Police Headquarters, located at 25 Kirkpatrick Street, houses the latest drop box.

NBPD Public Information Officer J.T. Miller explained that while the drop box in the station’s main vestibule is under surveillance, as per N.J. Department of Consumer Affairs’ guidelines, anyone using the drop box for its intended purpose wouldn’t be subject to arrest or prosecution. 

“If upon examination of the boxes’ contents, it was found that other items of contraband were discarded, an investigation could be initiated and depending on the circumstances, criminal charges may result,” Miller wrote in an email to New Brunswick Today. 

Prescription drug overdose-related deaths have soared in recent years.

While the U.S. Government doesn’t track mortality rates linked to each and every drug, CDC Wonder, a database curated by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a 2.8-fold increase in fatal overdoses attributed to prescription drugs between 2001 to 2014.

Opioids caused less than 6,000 deaths in 2001, but more than 18,000 in 2014.

In June 2011, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation noticed an uptick in the young’s prescription drug abuse rates. Specifically, they detailed how more and more youth were abusing painkillers and heroin.

Though Project Medicine Drop aims to get drugs off the street, it is also intended to keep them out of the water supply and landfills.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called attention to this issue in a 2013 study where researchers identified 56 pharmaceuticals present in samples from 50 wastewater plants around the country. Though the authors reported that the risks posed to healthy adults were low, it was unclear how the contamination affects aquatic ecosystems. 

“The NBPD had dedicated its resources to bring about positive progress in our State’s fight against substance abuse,” NBPD Director Anthony A. Caputo said in a statement. “This initiative is an important component of New Jersey’s effort to halt the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.”

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