Mass. Elected Officials: Turn In Those Old Pills

Top elected officials in Massachusetts are urging residents to clean out their medicine cabinets. They say unused painkillers can be a gateway to heroin abuse.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern represents central and western Massachusetts.

“Keeping these opiates in your prescription drug cabinet can make it for easy access for kids, for grand kids, for neighbors to come in and take them and abuse them or even sell them,” McGovern said at a Boston news conference.

McGovern encouraged people to turn in the drugs to police stations and other drop-off sites on April 26th.

Also at the event, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh defended his administration’s decision – reported in the Boston Globe – to close the city’s only public methadone clinic. Methadone is a drug used to ease withdrawal symptoms for heroin addicts. Walsh says the city will contract those services to a private company.

“We’re not in the bus of providing methadone and I don’t think we should be in the bus of providing methadone,” Walsh said. “And what we’re going to do is, there’s going to be another company that’s going to put a bid on it, take the meth services over. And what were gong to do is take the money – there’s a little bit of money there, not really much money there  - and create the Office of Recovery Services, so we can better provide services.”

Officials say Massachusetts had 600 drug overdose deaths last year, up from 300 about 12 years ago.

The Associated Press and WBUR contributed to this report.