TOWNSEND -- What to do with all those partially used prescription drugs located in cabinets or on top of refrigerators can be a problem.

Maybe they are expired. Or maybe they're just not needed or wanted.

It's not good for the environment to flush them away; studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found traces of veterinary and human drugs in the water supply.

Patients are reluctant to take expired medications. Although most medicines do not become toxic with age, some will lose effectiveness, according to a Harvard Health Publications article.

Some drugs might prove attractive to thieves who either desire the drugs themselves or plan to resell them. StreetRX.com shows recent prices for illegal purchases of prescription medications. On Oct. 16, one 30mg oxydodone pill went for $25 in nearby Leominster, according to the site, where drug purchasers enter their information.

Prescription drug abuse and the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses is "alarmingly high," according to the DEA. The majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends.

Cleaning out the medicine cabinet will prevent potential abuse.

This Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Townsend police, working in conjunction with the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration will accept medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Police/Communications Center at 70 Brookline Road.

"We've had it in the past," Police Chief Erving Marshall said. "It's targeted for those prescriptions that are kind of laying around, so kids won't get into them."

The DEA will dispose of any drugs collected at the free, daylong event. The drop-off is anonymous; no questions will be asked.

Although the event is run under a federal program, the department receives no extra funding for coordinating it.

The last take-back in Townsend was two years ago. The department would like to run one yearly, but there is not enough funding, Marshall said.

The initiative seeks to prevent pill abuse, theft and prevent hazards to health and the environment, according the a Townsend Police Department press release.

Over the last five years, the DEA and its local partners have taken in two million pounds of pills at more than 5,200 sites during the take-back days.