MAY 06 (LOS ANGELES)– On Saturday, April 27, DEA personnel from the Los Angeles Field Division and more than 100 state and local law enforcement partners, working at 204 locations, collected 31,538 pounds (more than 15 tons) of medication from members of the public as part of the sixth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This event aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of these medications.
The DEA Los Angeles Field Division encompasses seven counties in the greater Los Angeles area, the States of Nevada and Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI).
In the Los Angeles area, local law enforcement agencies from Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties collected 26,352 pounds. In Nevada, agents and local law enforcement officers collected 2,409 pounds of prescription medications. In Hawaii, Guam, and the CMNI, agents and local law enforcement officers collected 2,777 pounds of medications at locations throughout the islands.
A total of 742,497 pounds (371 tons) of prescription medication was collected nationwide during this most recent event. When added to the collections from DEA’s previous five Take-Back events, more than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation nationwide.
Many collection sites provided “drive-thru” service to provide convenient access for residents. Community groups and coalitions also joined with local law enforcement agencies to provide drug awareness literature and community resource information.
According to the 2011 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs than the number of those who regularly used cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined. That same study revealed more than 70 percent of people abusing prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.
The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the White House’s prescription drug abuse prevention strategy released in 2011 by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Disposal of unwanted, unused or expired drugs is one of four strategies for reducing prescription drug abuse and diversion laid out in Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis. The other strategies include education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states; and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.
Shortly after DEA’s first Take-Back Day event two-and-a-half years ago, Congress passed, and President Obama signed, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow the DEA to develop permanent, ongoing, and responsible methods for disposing of controlled-substance medications. Prior to the passage of the above-cited Act, the CSA provided no legal means for transferring possession of controlled substance medications from users to other individuals for disposal. On December 21, 2012, DEA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Disposal of Controlled Substances that seeks to implement the above-cited Act.