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Sites across region will collect unwanted or expired medications

Last September, residents of Erie and Niagara counties dropped off more than two tons of unwanted prescription drugs, including potentially addictive painkillers.

Hailed as a major success, the event will be repeated Saturday at locations throughout the region, as part of a nationwide drug "take-back" program.

A recent investigation by The Buffalo News found that doctors in Western New York prescribe, in total, three of the most abused narcotic painkillers -- oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl -- at a significantly higher rate than their counterparts in the rest of the state.

But the problem often begins at home, not the doctor's office. More than half of all narcotic prescription drugs are obtained free from friends or family members, according to federal surveys.

"When we meet addiction-treatment professionals, they tell us that almost three-quarters of the people they see began by taking drugs out of their parents' medicine cabinets," said Dale M. Kasprzyk, acting resident agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"We believe strongly operations like this keep these drugs out of the hands of people who might abuse them and reduce demand," he said.

The 4,200 pounds of drugs dropped off last year in the Buffalo area was the most for any DEA district, said Kasprzyk, who attributed the success to raising awareness beforehand. Overall, Americans turned in more than 242,000 pounds of drugs, according to the DEA.

From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday, people can turn in expired or unwanted drugs at 21 drop-off points. The drugs then will be incinerated.

The drop-off will be held at the following sites:

Erie County:

Erie County Medical Center, 462 Grider St.

Kenmore Mercy Hospital, 2950 Elmwood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.

Erie County Fairgrounds, 5600 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg.

Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, 224 E. Main St., Springville.

Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, 1540 Maple Road, Amherst.

Mercy Ambulatory Care Center, 3669 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park.

St. Joseph Campus of Sisters Hospital, 2605 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga.

D'Youville College, 320 Porter Ave.

West Seneca Town Ice Rink, 1250 Union Road.

Niagara County:

North Tonawanda City Hall, 216 Payne Ave.

Old Niagara Falls Police Headquarters, 520 Hyde Park Blvd.

Lockport Plaza, South Transit and Willow streets.

Niagara County Sheriff's Office, 5526 Niagara St. Extension, Lockport.

Mount St. Mary's Hospital, 5300 Military Road, Lewiston.

Cattaraugus County:

Gowanda Municipal Building, 27 E. Main St.

Salamanca Municipal Building, 225 Wildwood Ave.

Cattaraugus County Office Building, 1 Leo Moss Drive, Olean.

Chautauqua County:

Chautauqua Mall, 318 E. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood.

Alstar Headquarters, 738 N. Monroe St., Dunkirk.

Wyoming County:

Sheriff's Office, 151 N. Main St., Warsaw.

Arcade Police Headquarters, 12 Church St., Arcade.

Items accepted in the drug drop-off include prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Only solid drugs, such as tablets and capsules, will be accepted.

e-mail: hdavis@buffnews.com

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