Sheriff’s Office ‘Drug Box’ offers convenient prescription drug disposal

See why it’s even easier, now, to safely discard medications – thanks to a new service in outer East Portland …

MCSO Public Information Officer Lt. Steve Alexander shows off the newly-installed “MedReturn” unit in their main office.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It didn’t get much fanfare when the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) installed a brand new “MedReturn” prescription drug collection unit in the lobby of the Hansen Building in December.

But, as word has gotten out, more and more people are now coming in to the MCSO headquarters to make use of this handy, confidential service.

  • To read our story about a similar box installed at Portland Police Bureau East Precinct in May, 2011: CLICK HERE.

“The program offers the public a means to anonymously deposit their expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs,” explained MCSO Public Information Officer, Lt. Steve Alexander.

“Prescription drug abuse by teens and adults is a growing trend,” Alexander continued. “The collection box helps to keep drugs out of the hands of individuals who may use them in an unsafe or unlawful manner.”

Further, it’s sometimes unclear to law-abiding citizens just how to safely rid their medicine cabinets of expired or unused medicines. “Throwing them away, or flushing them down the drain, pose potential safety and health hazards to individuals, and to our natural ecology,” Alexander added. “We dispose of them properly, in an environmentally-responsive way.”

Disposing of all kinds of drugs is easy and confidential, they say – just open the door, and drop them into the “MedReturn” box.

The idea is catching on. At last check, MCSO has taken in about 750 pounds of medicines, all now destined for destruction.

Asked if folks could turn in illegal drugs as well, Alexander replied, “Again, this is an anonymous collection device for any kind of drug – prescription or illicit. No matter, we’ll take care to safely dispose of it.”

Medications from households are accepted in any form, including prescriptions, over-the-counter, and pet medications. Individuals are asked to deposit the medicine in its original container – you can “black out” or remove the labels, which contain a name – and keep them tightly sealed and secured in a Ziploc bag to prevent leakage and contamination, added Alexander.

  • Acceptable items – Expired, unused, or unwanted controlled, non-controlled, and over-the-counter medications, including pet medications. Liquid products, such as cough syrup, must be tightly sealed in a leak-proof container.
  • Unacceptable items include – “Sharps”, syringes, thermometers, hydrogen peroxide, aerosol cans, and inhalers. Also, they are unable to accept medications from clinics, nursing homes, or businesses.


Hundreds of pounds of medications have been collected in the new “MedReturn” box (it’s emptied daily!) so far.

The “MedReturn Drug Collection Unit” was purchased for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office with funds from Oregon HIDTA. By the way, the office is located at 12240 NE Glisan Street, just east of NE 122nd Avenue.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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