Edgartown police laud success of pill drop box

— Photo courtesy of Edgartown Police

Edgartown police hoped a new drop box where people can dispose of unwanted prescription medications would encourage Island residents to clean out their medicine cabinets. But they have been astounded at the amount of pills dropped off since they installed the secure drop box a month ago.

“We’ve emptied that thing seven times, filled to the rim,” Chief Tony Bettencourt said. “It’s incredible.”

Chief Bettencourt emphasized that the drop box, in the lobby of the Edgartown Police department at 72 Pease’s Point Way, is open to all Islanders, not just Edgartown residents, during business hours. Any police officer can arrange after-hours drop-offs.

Police will accept all prescription medications and samples, all over-the-counter medications, vitamins, pet medications, medicated ointments, and liquid medication in leak-proof containers.

Items that cannot be discarded at the drop box include thermometers, syringes, IV bags, bloody or infectious waste, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, or inhalers.

Police store the collected medications in a secure area, then turn them over to federal authorities for disposal.

The idea is to remove outdated or unwanted medications from homes, discouraging addicts from breaking in to steal prescription narcotics.

Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health problem on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown police said they devote much of their resources to investigate house breaks where thieves steal prescription medications. Police recently arrested a woman who admitted she entered houses in three towns to steal prescription narcotics.