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The Pacific Northwest Responds to Prescription Drug “Take-Back” with Record Collection

SEP 30 (SEATTLE) ––Residents of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) responded overwhelmingly to the most recent DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  On September 26th, 2015, in a four hour period, residents of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska combined, turned in a record breaking 33,919 pounds (17 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 171 take-back sites.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis was extremely proud of the amazing response by the citizens of the Pacific Northwest region.  Adding, “This outstanding participation is a true reflection of their deep concerns in keeping the unused pharmaceutical drugs from being abused by unintended users and disposed of in the most environmentally conscious way possible.”   

Law Enforcement community partner assisting a resident in the Pacific Northwest with the disposal of prescription medications. Collection bin filling up with unused and/or unwanted prescription medications in the Pacific Northwest.
Law Enforcement community partner assisting a resident in the Pacific Northwest with the disposal of prescription medications. Collection bin filling up with unused and/or unwanted prescription medications in the Pacific Northwest.

When the results of the ten DEA Take Back Days for the PNW are combined, the DEA and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 268,456 pounds (134.2 tons) of medication from circulation. 
The following are the results broken down by state:

  • Washington – 19,320 pounds (9.6 tons) removed from circulation.
  • Idaho – 2,899 pounds (1.4 tons) removed from circulation.
  • Oregon – 8,934 pounds (4.5 tons) removed from circulation.
  • Alaska – 2,766 pounds (1.3 tons) removed from circulation.

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.

Prescription drugs collected from Washington State on September 26, 2015, boxed for disposal.
Prescription drugs collected from Washington State on September 26, 2015, boxed for disposal.

Recent DEA drug disposal regulations authorize certain DEA registrants to become authorized collectors.  Presently, there are 615 authorized collectors nationwide.  DEA will continue holding Take-Back Days while these and other collectors’ take back programs are launched and expanded.  The public may find authorized collectors in their communities by calling the DEA Office of Diversion Control’s Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539.

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