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Big red box spotted at Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy

COURTESY PHOTO The newly installed “Big Red Med Box” at Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy.
COURTESY PHOTO The newly installed ‘Big Red Med Box’ at the Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy.

There’s a new addition to the Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy in the form of a big red box. But it’s not there just to brighten up the place, but to protect residents and their families.

The box is a pharmaceutical collection receptacle that is used to dispose of unwanted, non-controlled medications. It was installed at the pharmacy by the organization “Operation Big Red Med Disposal Box,” a nonprofit that has placed more than 10 of the boxes — which are as safe and easy to use as a U.S. postal letter box — in Long Island pharmacies, plus one upstate.

“We need to protect our drinking water from many kinds of potential contaminants,” said pharmacy co-owner and pharmacist Suzanne Fujita, “including unwanted medications that might otherwise be flushed into our ground water. Water quality is a major concern.”

Medications deposited in the box are collected, removed and incinerated.

She noted that disposing of the pharmaceuticals in the box is an easy and safe method of protecting kids who might otherwise get their hands on them.

“It’s as simple to use as mailing a letter,” Ms. Fujita said. “Just pull open the little door and drop in your medications.”

The box will also will keep pharmaceuticals away from “some teens who might seek to divert medications for non-medical use,” Ms. Fujita added. “Getting rid of unwanted medications that are unnecessarily stored in household medicine cabinets reduces the chance of prescription drug abuse.”

For now, she added, the pharmacy will collect only non-controlled medications, until the New York State Bureau of Narcotic updates current regulations. Ms. Fujita noted that controlled medications can still be given to the Shelter Island Police Department.