More than 160 pounds of drugs collected

MERRIMACK – Merrimack Police collected more than 160 pounds of drugs, and they didn’t make one arrest because of it.

Taking part in the nationwide Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Merrimack officers took in 168 pounds in prescriptions last Saturday from town residents, who were invited to turn in unwanted pills to police, no questions asked.

That number dwarfs past totals, including the 80 pounds collected in April, according to Merrimack Police Lt. Paul Trepaney.

And each recovered pill makes the town safer, Trepaney said.

“Anything we get off the street makes us safer,” he said. “Whether (pills) get stolen, misplaced or dumped into the environment, it’s all bad. … This was a huge success.”

Once the pills were collected Saturday, Merrimack Police officers drove them to the National Guard Armory in Manchester, where they were handed over to agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which leads the national program.

From there, the pills are incinerated.

No information is collected regarding how many pills are disposed of or what types of medications are turned in.

Beyond Merrimack, more than 80 cities and towns across the state took part in the nationwide effort, including Amherst, Brookline, Hollis and Nashua, among other local communities.

Figures on the total amount of pills collected were not immediately available this week.

But last year, police collected nearly 2,500 pounds from around New Hampshire and more than 25,000 pounds from across New England, according to Steven Derr, special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration for New England.

More than 7 million people in America abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

“There are a lot of things that can happen (to these pills). This is a good way to dispose of them,” said Trepaney, of the Merrimack Police Department. “It’s good for the community.”

Jake Berry can be reached at 594-6402 or jberry@nashuatelegraph.com.