"Yellow Jugs" program will allow Hoosiers to drop off old drugs

A Bedford pharmacy is introducing a program to turn in old drugs.

It is a hard and dangerous drug, but more and more, families and law enforcement are finding heroin in Indiana communities. Often, the addiction starts with prescription drugs.

This week, a new take-back program is expanding to Indiana which could help stop prescription drug abuse, or worse.

"Just to get them out of the home, because there is potential for abuse or accidental ingestion," said Josh Anderson, pharmacist at Crowder's Pharmacy and member of the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force.

The program is called "Yellow Jugs Old Drugs," started by the Great Lakes Clean Water Organization.

"It's just a lot easier and less expensive for us," said Ralph Anderson, long-time pharmacist at Crowder's Pharmacy.

Crowder's Pharmacy in Bedford was the first in Indiana to bring in a yellow jug. After about a month, the jug at Crowder's was half-full.

"This is the jug. And there is just a chemical in here that basically eats the medication, dissolves them and breaks them down," Josh Anderson said.

When old drugs are flushed or tossed, they can end up in the wrong hands or even contaminate the local water supply.

Abuse of some drugs can also lead to a dangerous addiction.

"A lot of the pain medications and things like that are derived from the same place that heroin comes from," Josh Anderson said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost half of the young people who injected heroin said they used prescription opioids first.

"One can lead to the other," Josh Anderson said.

Though the yellow jugs cannot yet accept controlled substances like Vicodin or Oxycontin, the DEA is finalizing regulations to make drop-off of those drugs legal, too.

To join the program, pharmacies pay $25, which includes everything from pick-up to flyers and pamphlets. This week, a letter went out to local pharmacies inviting them to join the program.

Though "Yellow Jugs Old Drugs" is new to Indiana, there are more than 300 pharmacies with yellow jugs in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin.