WALLINGFORD — Legislation passed by the General Assembly last week will require municipalities to install a prescription drug drop-off box at police stations so people can get rid of unwanted medication safely. In Wallingford, the mayor and police chief have opposed past efforts to implement a drop box because of concerns over cost and security.
The legislation, part of the “budget implementer” bill passed in the last minutes of the 2014 legislative session, takes effect Oct. 1. The Department of Consumer Protection is directed to work with the Connecticut Pharmacists Association and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association to “develop and implement a program for the collection and disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals.”
The bill, awaiting the governor’s signature, calls for a secure locked box that is accessible to the public 24 hours a day for “anonymous drop-off of unwanted pharmaceuticals at each municipal police station.” The agencies involved will also arrange for the medication to be incinerated. There’s no deadline for installing a drop box.
Despite continuing reservations, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said the town will abide by the new law.
“I’ve voiced my concerns. It’s a cost to the police department, according to the chief,” Dickinson said Friday. “It’s also a security problem ... any time you’re putting unidentified packages in a police department, it’s a security concern.”
Police Chief Douglas Dortenzio could not be reached for comment Friday.
State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said municipalities can apply to the state for a grant to help with costs. The state Department of Consumer Protection has a $50,000 fund to help municipalities comply.
“Some municipalities already have this box,” Mushinsky said. “Those that don’t will be able to get one with the Department of Consumer Protection grant.”
But the grant will only cover installation costs, Dickinson said. He is concerned with operational costs. He also pointed out that the law requires only municipalities — not the state police — to install the prescription drug drop-off boxes.
“There’s the telltale ... There’s an operational cost to it all,” Dickinson said. “If the state police are exempted, it’s probably due to cost. There is not balanced treatment for everyone.”
Meriden is another nearby municipality that doesn’t have a prescription drug drop off box installed at its police department.
Meriden Mayor Manny Santos said he is neutral on the issue.
“I have heard the police department may be installing one with some renovations done to that lobby area,” Santos said. “I don’t particularly have a strong opinion either way. I don’t know enough about it.”
Mushinsky, who was a co-sponsor of the original bill, said making the installation of the drug boxes a law would be beneficial to municipalities and its residents.
“It keeps unwanted medications out of the hands of young people, who might misuse them and keep them out of the waterways,” Mushinsky said. “It’s a safer way to dispose of them than flushing it down the toilet, which is no longer recommended.”