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Levy Unveils Successful ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ Results

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy (holding packet) stands with police personnel, environmentalists and healthcare treatment providers in announcing that ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ has successfully removed more 800 pounds of narcotics from the streets and homes of Suffolk County. Levy was joined by (from left) Dr. James Tomarken, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services; Krista Whitman from the Pederson Krag Center; Mary Silberstein from the Pederson Krag Center; Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer; Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The office of the County Executive issued this release :

Standing before nearly 800 lbs. of discarded prescription drugs, County Executive Steve Levy revealed Suffolk’s highly successful – and first in the state – ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ program has enabled parents to drop off unwanted, unused, or expired medications at safe and secure locations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and resulted in 800lbs of narcotics being removed from homes and the streets.

Levy was joined at the Fourth Precinct news conference by Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, environmentalists, health experts and treatment providers who recognized the unprecedented success of this groundbreaking initiative to combat the Island-wide heroin epidemic.

“Through this initiative, we have successfully encouraged parents to rid their homes of unused and unwanted prescription medications that can easily become a first step down the path to adolescent drug abuse,” said Levy. “‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ has demonstrated that local government, in cooperation with the law enforcement community, can step up and provide parents with a safe option for disposing of potentially dangerous medications.”

Secure receptacles that resemble mailboxes have been placed inside each of Suffolk’s seven police precincts since August. In addition to reducing the risk that youngsters will take medications from medicine cabinets and other household locations, the program reflects Suffolk’s effort to protect drinking water and surface waters from contamination threats posed by the improper disposal of these items.

According to the New York State Department of Health, numerous municipalities have offered one-time-only drop-off days, but ‘Operation Medicine Cabinet’ has made the Suffolk’s Police Department the first statewide to offer permanent, 24/7 drop-off locations.

The drop-off locations are:

–         First Precinct, 555 Route 109, West Babylon

–       Second Precinct, 1071 Park Avenue, Huntington

–         Third Precinct, 1630 Fifth Avenue, Bay Shore

–         Fourth Precinct, 727 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown

–         Fifth Precinct, 125 Waverly Avenue, Patchogue

–         Sixth Precinct, 400 Route 25, Selden

–         Seventh Precinct, 1491 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley

Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken said, “This is an excellent example of how adults can check their medicine cabinets for outdated medicines and dispose of them, a practice which they should be doing regularly, in a safe fashion.  In addition, this program reduces the risk to the public health by protecting our drinking water and by eliminating temptation for teens to experiment with prescription narcotic medications that can have long-term negative consequences.”

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence stated, “We are thrilled that this program has been such a huge success. Every pill that we get out of people’s homes and off the streets helps limit addiction and potentially saves a life. The misuse of prescription drugs is among Suffolk’s most serious public health problems with large numbers of young people becoming addicted to painkillers and then progressing to heroin, which is cheaper. We applaud Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy and the Suffolk County Police Department for launching this inexpensive and simple, yet powerful tool for addressing drug diversion and misuse.”

Kym Laube, vice president of the Quality Consortium and Executive Director of HUGS, Inc., noted, “I would like to take this opportunity to applaud County Executive Steve Levy for the initiation of Operation Medicine Cabinet.  Clearly we are able to measure the amount of prescription drugs that were turned in just a short amount of time, however what we are not able to accurately measure is the amount of lives this initiative impacted and potentially saved. Is one more young-person alive tonight? Is one more parent sleeping soundly knowing they did the right thing, and are you safer as a citizen as a result of the drop off spots? We say yes. This was a simple solution to a pervasive problem that has helped to protect our youth, our environment, our community, and our earth. We fully support the continuation of this program and the education that goes along with it.”

The program was also praised by Anthony Ferrandino, co-chair of the Northport/ East Northport Drug and Alcohol Task Force. “We commend Mr. Levy for his commitment to preserving the future of our children and the environment,” Ferrandino said. “We look forward to partnering with the County Executive and our other state and local officials to continue to deploy these drop boxes in the neighborhoods of all Long Island communities.”

Suffolk Commissioner of Environment & Energy Carrie Meek-Gallagher said, “This program is an innovative example of how Suffolk County is working hard to protect our drinking water and surface waters from contamination threats posed by the improper disposal of items in our medicine cabinet, and a rare opportunity for law enforcement and the environmental community to work together for the common good. Both local and nationwide studies have found evidence of medications, pharmaceuticals and personal care products in our waterways, as well as our groundwater, with potentially serious impacts to ecological and human health.”

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, added, “This smart, successful program illustrates the clear need of implementing and sustaining this long-term permanent drop-off program.  Flushing unused prescriptions down the toilet is not an acceptable option and is simply dangerous. Antibiotics, hormones, and painkillers do not belong in bays, oceans, and drinking water. This model program provides residents an environmentally safe option to dispose of unused and unwanted drugs. Every county in New York should work to replicate Suffolk County’s thriving program.”

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