Santa Monica Police officers, in conjunction with the DEA, collected 160 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs over four hours Saturday.

SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis said nine boxes measuring 36 inches tall, 24 inches wide and 12 to 18 inches deep were filled with drugs, and two smaller containers were loaded with needles.

“The event was extremely successful and we are receiving dozens of calls and e-mails requesting the next date,” Lewis said.

An officer was stationed outside the Public Safety Facility to make it easier for residents to drive by and drop off the drugs. There was no charge for the service and no questions asked, Lewis said.

The event was part of a larger initiative by the DEA and more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement partners to rid communities of potentially dangerous drugs. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoes due to these drugs, law enforcement officials said.

In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods of disposing of unused medicines — flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Last April, Americans turned in 376,593 pounds — 188 tons — of prescription drugs at nearly 5,400 sites.

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