DEA to Hold Second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

On April 30, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its partners will hold the second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day at sites nationwide. The event, which is free and anonymous, is intended to prevent pill abuse and theft by allowing people to turn over potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Last September, Americans turned in over 242,000 pounds-121 tons-of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites operated by more than 3,000 of the DEA’s state and local law enforcement partners. The agency hopes to collect even more this spring by opening the event to long term care facilities. 

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high – more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. 

“The overwhelming public response to DEA’s first nationwide Take-Back event last fall not only rid homes of potentially harmful prescription drugs, but was an unprecedented opportunity to educate everyone about the growing prescription drug abuse problem,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “Studies have shown that, for many, prescription drugs are the very first drugs they abuse-and all too often they aren’t the last. That is why we are committed to helping Americans keep their homes safe by ridding their medicine cabinets of expired, unused, and unwanted drugs.”

“I encourage every American to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to safely dispose of unused, un-needed, or expired prescription drugs,” said Gil Kerlikowkse, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Preventing these readily available and potentially deadly drugs from being diverted and misused is something each and every one of us can do to help reduce the epidemic of prescription drug abuse that is harming so many Americans.”    

Four days after last fall’s event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA has begun drafting regulations to implement the Act.

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