Maine set a new record Saturday for the amount of unused and expired medications turned in for safe disposal.

Mainers dropped off 14,410 pounds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs at collection sites around the state, according to Michael Wardrop, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent in Portland who coordinated the take-back event in Maine. The pills and other drugs were taken in two box trucks to a specially designated incinerator in Massachusetts, where they were destroyed earlier today.

The last collection produced 11,920 pounds in Maine, the most drugs per capita collected in any state.

“I’m pretty confident that again we will be number one per capita,” Wardrop said. “If we saved one life, we did our due diligence.”
 
The DEA sponsors the national drug take-back days to get opiate painkillers and other drugs out of  medicine cabinets where they are available to teens and potential abusers. The take backs also reduce the amount of drugs being flushed down toilets and polluting waterways.

Some had expected the latest collection to generate fewer drugs because of the success of past efforts.

Wardrop attributed the new record amount to growing awareness about prescription drug abuse and about environmental damage, as well as an iincrease in the number of long-term nursing care facilities that participated.

“It is still alarming how much waste there is,” Wardrop said. “It just goes to show it’s not stopping. We are definitely not purging anything. It’s an ongoing problem.”

A series of articles published by MaineToday Media this month reported that prescription drug abuse, overdose deaths and drug-related crime are at historic high levels in Maine.