Local police collect hundreds of pounds of drugs

Local law enforcement gathered hundreds of pounds of drugs as part of the recent DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The annual event, which took place April 30, is designed to give people an opportunity to dispose of unwanted, unused and expired medications safely and anonymously in an effort to fight addiction.

In a Lake City Police Department (LCPD) release, the agency reported collecting 320 pounds of medications. 

“It may seem insignificant to dispose of prescriptions properly, but the weight collected this year shows that every return matters,” LCPD Chief of Police Gerald Butler said in a statement. “Removing 320 pounds of medications out of the homes of our citizens takes 320 pounds of drugs off the streets of our city. These medications will be incinerated and will never be able to fall into the wrong hands.”

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) also reported good community participation.

“We collected 61 pounds of unwanted/unused prescription medications,” said ACSO spokesperson Art Forgey in an email. “That’s 61 pounds that will not be disposed of improperly or misused.” 

The Levy County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) posted that it partnered with the Levy Prevention Coalition, Williston Police Department, Chiefland Police Department and the Cedar Key Police Department to collect 108.5 pounds of unwanted or unused prescription drugs.

The local collections come as the state announced a $683 million award from Walgreens on Thursday in a settlement that will send recovery money flowing to local communities affected by the opioid epidemic. 

According to a release from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office, Walgreens is the 12th and final defendant in the state’s case against distributors, manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies to hold them accountable in the opioid crisis. Total funds secured through litigation efforts now total more than $3 billion.

“Before taking office, I vowed to seek accountability for the opioid crisis, and with this final action, I can now say we have successfully accomplished our mission,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement. “The more than $3 billion secured through years of determined legal work will go to communities devastated by opioids. Our hope is this money, paid out over the next two decades, will save lives and help Florida families and communities heal.”

According to the announcement, Florida’s cities and counties will receive a portion of the monies received from Walgreens to be spent on opioid abatement including prevention efforts, treatment or recovery services. The remainder of the funds go towards paying fees and costs incurred by cities, counties and the state.  

The Florida Department of Health reports that 7,460 Floridians died of drug overdoses in 2020, the most recent year for which data is currently available. 

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