Julia Roberts Goad
SOUTH WILLIAMSON, Ky. - A dragon helped fight drugs in South Williamson Tuesday by disposing of unused prescription medication.
UNITE, the anti-drug task force, brought its Pill Dragon, an incinerator for disposing of unused and out-of-date medication, to the ARH Pharmacy.
Keith Napier, Drug Force Manager and Paul Hayes, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement for Big Sandy UNITE, spent two hours in the parking lot of the pharmacy with the Pill Dragon. Napier said he estimated more than 12,000 pills were collected and destroyed.
“We have had a really good turnout today, especially considering the weather” Napier said.
He explained the process:
“People come to us and bring pills, usually in the bottle,” he said “We take the pills, put them in a plastic bag, and just drop them in the dragon, which is a two-stage incinerator. it reduces them to a harmless ash.” He said the pill bottles are recycled.
Hayes told the Daily News some pill bottles come to them full.
“We have gotten full bottles, some hold 500 pills,” he said. “Often, patients are terminally ill when they have prescriptions filled, then the patient passes away. The family doesn’t know what to do with their medications, and they bring them to us.”
He said the incinerator was once at a site where they disposed of pills that filled a 35-gallon drum, Hayes said.
“The binding agent that is used to manufacture pills burns at a high temperature,” Napier said. “There is a lot of heat produced.” The Pill Dragon, on permanent loan from the National Guard, is powered by diesel fuel, and burns at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to providing a safe disposal method, Hayes said, it is also important to get unused prescription drugs out of the home.
“Often parents or grandparents are what we call accidental dealers,” he said. “They have medicines in their home, and kids end up taking them, some as young as 10 or 11 years old. We don’t want to put anyone in just, hopefully we can just keep some kids from making a bad decision.”