Toms River police participant in Project Medicine Drop

TOMS RIVER – Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato announced recently that more than 38,000 pounds of unused medicine has been destroyed during the last four years through a program known as Project Medicine Drop.

According to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, Project Medicine Drop allows individuals to dispose of unused and expired medications anonymously, seven days a week. A dropbox is installed indoors in a secure area within the police department headquarters.

Jillian Messina, a spokeswoman for the Toms River Police Department, said the department is a part of Project Medicine Drop and has a mailbox installed in the police headquarters.

“The Toms River Police Department is proud to participate in Project Medicine Drop. It is important to properly dispose of unused medications, as well as, keep them out of the hands of those who they are not intended for. In Toms River, this initiative by the Attorney General’s Office has yielded, on average, approximately a ton (2,000 pounds) of prescription medications each year since we joined the program in 2012,” Messina said.

Messina said residents can dispose of unused or expired medication on a year-round basis, 24 hours a day, at the Toms River Police Headquarters, which is located at 255 Oak Avenue. The dropbox is in the  in the front lobby of the police department.

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Al Della Fave said that when the program started in the summer of 2014, staff members in the prosecutor’s office believed they would only collect a couple hundred pounds of unused and/or unneeded medicine.

“When the numbers turned out to be in the thousands, those numbers actually shocked us. When Prosecutor Coronato saw the scope of things, he assigned Lt. Cindy Boyd to supervise the program. (We) realized the need to rent a box truck because there was so much in unused medicine sent to the prosecutor’s office,” Della Fave said.

According to a press release, in 2015, the county burned medicine that was collected four time. In 2016, the county conducted three burns, in 2017, the county conducted three burns and so far in 2018, officials have conducted two burns.

According to Della Fave, the prosecutor’s staff believed they would only have to conduct one or two burns each year. He said the lowest burn of unused/unneeded medicine was 1,040 pounds in December 2015.

“Our Juvenile Unit was learning that teens were becoming drug dealers in the county unbeknownst to them. Some were raiding their parents’ medicine cabinets and selling a couple of pills for $10 or $20 in cash to buy things,” Della Fave said.

According to Della Fave, there are 18 police departments in Ocean County that are involved in the program.

“Even if your town’s police department does not have a medicine drop-off, there is a good chance a police department in the next town does. The police departments have taken old and used mailboxes and repainted them for people to place their unused medicine in,” Della Fave said.

“With over 38,000 pounds of unused medicine having been destroyed, it would be hard not to know that at least there are a few cases in which that medicine had not gotten into the wrong hands,” he said.

Della Fave said it is important that the program continues.

“Since 2014, there really has not been any drop-off in the amount of unused medicine that has been destroyed. The numbers tell us this is still a constant issue for people,” Della Fave said.