Annual drug roundup collects less material but remains effective

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Sunday, April 29, 2012
— Ann Hessenauer drove through the Janesville Water Utility building on East Delavan Drive on Saturday morning to drop off prescription drugs that belonged to her mother, who died two years ago.

“I was cleaning the cupboards, found them and brought them down,” the Janesville woman said.

Hessenauer was among 173 vehicles that dropped off 319 pounds of drugs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Rock County Rx Roundup.

Another 76 vehicles participated in the same roundup when they dropped off 54.5 pounds of drugs at the Edgerton Fire Department, said Rick Wietersen, Rock County Health Department groundwater program manager.

“It went good,” he said.

Hessenauer explained the importance of the roundup.

“I didn’t want to flush them down the toilet ’cause we’re not supposed to contaminate the (ground) water,” she said.

So after learning about the roundup through several local publications, she decided to participate for the first time. The roundups began in 2005.

Participating gave Hessenauer peace of mind and a sense of security knowing the prescription pills were no longer in her house.

“I have young grandchildren and am concerned they’d get a hold of them,” she said.

On average, more than a vehicle a minute drove through the Janesville roundup during the first hour, according to the person keeping track with a counter at the entrance to the building.

That didn’t surprise Wietersen, who said about 600 pounds of medications were collected at such collection points plus Beloit last year.

Saturday’s spring collection took place in conjunction with a federal/nationwide take-back initiative, which allows the county to use the Drug Enforcement Agency for disposal of the drugs, which reduces the cost to Rock County residents.

“At $2 a pound, that’s nearly a thousand dollars we don’t have to pay for disposal,” Wietersen said.

The last time a collection such as Saturday’s took place was in September.

“We’re trending to collect less at one-day collections than the previous year. However, overall collection is significantly higher with seven Rx collection boxes, which began being placed in Rock County communities in 2010 and are housed in the Janesville, Beloit, Edgerton Evansville and Milton police departments plus at Mercy Clinic East and Mercy Health Mall.

“We believe they are being used effectively and are reducing our one-day events,” Wietersen said.

That held true Saturday when the combined roundup in Janesville and Edgerton saw 144 fewer vehicles and collected 123.5 fewer pounds of drugs.

“At both locations the pounds are down quite a bit and that’s pretty much in line with what we expected, because last year at this time we didn’t have all of the drop boxes in place,” Wietersen said.

The September 2012 collection will be eliminated and Beloit decided not to participate in this collection.

Still, the one-day roundups are necessary for a couple of reasons, Wietersen said.

“It’s been very well received by the public and we wanted to expand so now we have the combination of the two, which we feel is pretty effective.’’

Last updated: 8:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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