MAY 13 (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – Tennesseans participating in the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) eighth National Prescription Drug Take-Back event on Saturday, April 26, 2014, turned in 10,747 pounds of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at sites set up throughout the state. This amount exceeded the previous statewide total collected during the October 26, 2013 Take-Back event which yielded 10,030 pounds.
Harry S. Sommers, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented, “DEA’s eighth Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign was a huge success both locally and nationally. While Tennesseans turned in approximately 10,747 pounds of unwanted or expired medications, nationally, more than 780,158 pounds of expired and unwanted prescription medications were collected with more than 4,400 sites that were available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The local and national amounts collected are the second highest totals ever collected out of the seven previous Take-Back events. I would like to thank the multitude of partners (both law enforcement and non-law enforcement) who worked tirelessly to make this event another great success.”
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Prescription drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high; more Americans (6.8 million) currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens like LSD, and inhalants (sniffed household products) combined, according to the 2012 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.
Take-Back Days are presently needed because the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as originally written didn’t provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of such controlled substance (CS) medications such as painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants like ADHD drugs. People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, but in recent years medicines have been found in the nation’s water supplies, and medications were being retrieved from the trash by those who would abuse or sell them.
To give people a more environmentally responsible and secure way to dispose of their meds, DEA launched its first Take-Back event in September 2010. Four days later, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the CSA to allow people and, in some instances, long term care facilities to regularly, conveniently, and safely dispose of their CS medications by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. DEA is in the process of finalizing regulations to implement the Act.
SAC Sommers encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.