Prescription Drug Take-Back set for Sept. 26

pill bottles

DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg announced July 28 that the 10th National Prescription Drug Take-Back would take place Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. As with the previous nine Take-Back events, sites will be set up throughout communities nationwide so local residents can return their unwanted, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal.

The DEA began hosting National Prescription Drug Take-Back events in September 2010. Since then, the agency has already held nine. Enormous public participation in those events resulted in the collection of more than 4.8 million pounds of medication at over 6,000 sites manned by law enforcement partners throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.

According to the DEA, the National Prescription Drug Take-Back initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans might not be aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the amount of prescription painkillers dispensed in the U.S. quadrupled between 1999 and 2013, as did the number of deaths from prescription painkillers, reportedly killing more than 16,000 people in the U.S. in 2013. The most common drugs involved in prescription overdoses include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin), oxymorphone (e.g., Opana) and methadone, especially when prescribed for pain. Information provided by the CDC indicates that nearly 2 million Americans, aged 12 or older, either abused or were dependent on opioids in 2013, the most recent data available. The DEA estimates the annual cost of the nonmedical use of prescription opioids in 2011, the most recent data available, at more than $53 billion. Nationally in 2014, 21.5 percent of law enforcement agencies responding to annual National Drug Threat Assessment surveys reported controlled prescription drugs as the greatest drug threat, up from 9.8 percent reporting the same in 2009, according to the DEA.

Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet, the DEA reports. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – actions the agency calls “potential safety and health hazards.”

After the ninth drug national take-back event, the DEA announced they would no longer be holding them and citizens would have to dispose of their unused medication through other means. However, after the last event’s huge response, the DEA announced it would continue hosting the national drug take-back days.

In a press release, the DEA asserted, “As evidenced by the overwhelming participation by Americans in all 50 states at the nine National Prescription Drug Take-Back events since 2010, DEA sees a clear need to continue this service.”

DEA administrator Rosenberg encourages the public to dispose of their unwanted medicines during the upcoming take-back in September.

“Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem and this is a great opportunity for folks around the country to help reduce the threat,” Rosenberg said. “Please clean out your medicine cabinet and make your home safe from drug theft and abuse.”

Local location listings for prescription drug drop-off will be available on the DEA website on Sept. 1.