Disposing of Drugs Safely

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit

To mark International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31 and National Drug Drop-Off Month, the Toronto Police Service collaborated with Rexall, Drug Free Kids Canada and the Health Products Stewardship Association to help raise awareness about the ongoing opioid crisis in Canada and the safe disposal of medications.

In the first four months of this year, 107 drug overdose deaths occurreFd in Toronto. 

“Today is a day to remember those who have died from overdose and acknowledge the grief of the families and friends left behind,” said Inspector Paul Rinkoff, of the Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit. “Today, we also acknowledge our emergency service workers who often attend overdose calls for service to provide lifesaving efforts.”

Of those overdose deaths, 90 were caused by opiods.

“As a police service, we are concerned,” said Rinkoff. “A total of 1,500 officers carried the lifesaving Naloxone. You too could save a life by possessing a Naloxone kit.”

Naloxone is used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, Percocet, morphine, methadone and heroin.

Dr. Yannan Liu, the pharmacist at Rexall Pharmacy at 901 Eglinton Ave. W., said they offer a complimentary service year-round to patients as do other pharmacies.

“A lot of people feel uncomfortable having a kit in their possession because of the stigma around them,” he noted. “The message is that it should be part of your First Aid kit. I keep one with me all the time in case I have to help someone. We have the nasal kits that are very easy and quick to use. After you administer it, you can call 9-1-1.”

Rinkoff thanked the partners for collaborating with TPS to encourage people to return unwanted and unused prescription drugs to pharmacies for safe disposal and to help prescription drugs from getting into improper hands, leading to misuse and abuse.   

Medication Take Back helps support the safe disposal of expired or unused cough and cold medications, ointments and pain medications throughout the communities they serve.

“If you have a lot of unused medication at home, you may get confused,” said Liu. “If you have unused pain medication that is taken by people who they are not for, that can cause a lot of harm. It is also best not to dump them in garbage or down the toilet bowl. If you bring it to a pharmacy, we can dispose them properly.”  

For the first time, Drug Free Kids Canada, collaborated with Toronto Police and Rexall on the initiative.

“It is a way to show people the why as to why they should bring back their medications for safe disposal,” said Community Manager Susan Hutt. 

Health Products Stewardship Association was also a first-time participant.

“We ensure the proper disposal of unused medical sharps and unwanted medications,” said Communications and Marketing Associate Jewelle McKenzie-Sampson. “It is really important not only for children, but the environment to keep the toxins and drugs out of our waterways which will affect our health and that of pets.”

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