WESTON, FL. – During the third Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative on October 29, 2011, Floridians turned in approximately 10,205 pounds (4 ½ tons) of unwanted or expired prescription drugs. DEA’s Miami Field Division partnered with its state and local counterparts to establish 129 collection sites across the state. In the Northern Florida, 1 ½ tons were collected, Tampa area, 1 ⅓ tons, Orlando area, 1 ¼ tons, and 1/2 ton in South Florida (all weights approximate). In the three Take-Back events held to date, Floridians safely disposed of 14 ¾ tons.
Nationwide, Americans turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,327 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
“This large amount of disposed prescription drugs indicates that Floridians care about the well-being of their families and communities” said DEA Miami Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Mark R. Trouville. “In support of the need to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription drugs, we will continue to hold Take-Back events until proper regulations are in place for Floridians.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for one month. Often, some of these medicines languish in the home and 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, heroin, and inhalants combined, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Studies show that the majority of teens who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from family and friends for free, including from the home medicine cabinet. Many Americans simply do not know how to properly dispose of their unused or expired medicine, often flushing it down the toilet or throwing it away. These methods can pose both safety and environmental hazards.
Four days after DEA’s first Take-Back Day event September 25, 2010, Congress passed legislation amending the Controlled Substances Act to allow the DEA to develop a permanent process for people to safely and conveniently dispose of their prescription drugs. After President Obama signed the Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act of 2010 on October 12, DEA immediately began developing regulations for a more permanent solution.
The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the White House’s prescription drug abuse prevention strategy entitled Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis developed and promoted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Purging America’s home medicine cabinets of unwanted or expired medications is one of four action items outlined in the strategy for reducing prescription drug abuse and diversion. The other action items include education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; establishing prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states; and increased enforcement to address “doctor shopping” and pill mills.