Drop-off day gives heave-ho to unwanted medications

Positive response to city, county combined effort
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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They’re a headache for water providers and a pain in the neck to landfill operators. So when Placer County and Auburn officials teamed up Saturday to provide a drop-off for expired and unwanted pain relievers, medications, and other assorted pharmaceutical pills and potions, they were pleasantly surprised at the response. The disposal site behind the Auburn Civic Center experienced a steady stream of traffic during the event, with people dropping off everything from Aleve to Zoloft. By the end of the four hours, thousands of pills — enough boxes, bottles and blister packs to half-fill a two-yard dumpster — had been turned over for proper destruction. Michelle White, an environmental resource specialist with Placer County, said all the pharmaceuticals collected will be incinerated, keeping them out of landfills or waterways. About 100 people in total dropped off pills but in the case of Auburn’s Diane Pixley, her dropoff represented the expired medications of nine different people. Pixley’s pills came from a care facility. “We had loads to get rid of — you don’t want to throw them in the trash but we hadn’t been able to find a way to dispose of them until now,” Pixley said. “I was driving by and saw the sign this week.” The county has held hazardous disposal events in the past in Auburn, as well as Colfax and Foresthill, where pharmaceuticals could be disposed of. But Saturday’s was the first one where only drugs were accepted. In a regulatory move that made the event less complicated than it could have been, uniformed Auburn Police officers were present — allowing people to turn over drugs such as morphine and Oxycontin, which are considered controlled substances and weren’t being accepted at hazardous disposal events. Megan Siren, an administrative analyst with the city, said the disposal day — which coincided with the state’s “No Drugs Down the Drain Week,” received better-than-expected response and may be held again. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or comment at