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DEA’s Eighth Statewide Prescription Drug Take Back Day Results in Another Big Haul
More than 12,000 pounds of prescription and over-the-counter medicine collected

MAY 08 (PHOENIX)– Today, Douglas W. Coleman, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), announced that over 12,000 pounds of prescription medications were collected during the eighth Prescription Drug Take Back Event.  When added to the collections of previous Take Back events, DEA and its state, local and tribal law enforcement partners have removed an excess of 70,800 pounds (35 tons) of medications from circulation.  

Glendale Police Department collection site. Various boxes of collected drugs.
Glendale Police Department collection site. Various boxes of collected drugs.

The one-day DEA nationwide campaign was held on April 26, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and provided Arizonans the ability to properly dispose of their unwanted or expired medications in a safe and environmentally sound way.

“The Take Back Campaign was another huge success that cleaned out more than six tons of pills from Arizonan’s medicine cabinets, a crucial step toward reducing the epidemic of prescription drug abuse that is plaguing this nation,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “Thanks to our state, local and tribal law enforcement partners—and the public—we not only removed these dangerous drugs from our homes, but also educated countless concerned citizens about the dangers of drug abuse.”

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and trafficking of medications.  This is important because the non-medical use of controlled substance (CS) medications is at an all-time high, with 6.8 million Americans reporting having abused prescription drugs in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released in 2013.  That same study revealed more than 54 percent of people who abuse 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 Obama administration’s strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse and trafficking, which also includes 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.

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 CS medications as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants like ADHD drugs.  People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash. 

DEA launched its first Take-Back event in September 2010, after which the President signed  the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the CSA to allow people, including residents of 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, publishing on December 21, 2012, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Disposal of Controlled Substances that presented possible disposal options.

DEA encourages parents, educators, and young adults to visit the following websites to learn about prescription drug abuse and misuse:  www.justthinktwice.com; www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com; www.drugfreeaz.org.

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