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DEA and local law enforcement partners collect record number of unused pills as part of its 14th Prescription Drug Take Back Day

(EL PASO) – Americans nationwide did their part to reduce the opioid crisis by bringing the DEA and its more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 912,305 pounds—456 tons—of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites. That is almost six tons more than was collected at last spring’s event. This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons.

Locally, the El Paso Division, which covers West Texas and all of New Mexico, bettered its total from Take Back 13 held in April 2017.  Totals from Take Back 14 were 10,975 pounds – 5.5 tons – up from 8,629 – 4.31 tons – collected just six months ago. 

“Prescription drug abuse is the nation’s fastest growing drug problem.  More people die each year from prescription painkiller overdoses than from heroin, cocaine or any other illegal drug”, said Karen I. Flowers, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration-El Paso Division.   “By continuing to offer safe and secure options for our citizens to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs, we are reducing the threat that these drugs pose to public health.”

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, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—posed potential safety and health hazards.

Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications. DEA’s next Take Back Day will be April 28, 2018.
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