Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA Headquarters

February 09, 2016

Contact: National Media Affairs Office

Phone Number: (202) 307-1000

DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg Statement On Walgreens’ Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative

WASHINGTON - The United States Drug Enforcement (DEA) commends Walgreens for their commitment to install secure collection bins for unused prescription drugs in over 500 of their stores in 40 states.  

"Take back programs are an important and easy way for the public to anonymously dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired medications, and today's announcement is a step in the right direction," said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. "We look forward to the day when safe drug disposal options are commonplace and I hope this action inspires others to create similar programs."

DEA has been working with our partners in the pharmaceutical industry to facilitate anonymous, safe and legal methods for the public to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.  Intercepting these medicines prior to their diversion for abuse or trafficking is key.  Over 50 percent of persons 12 or older who abused pain relievers in the past year got them from a friend or relative for free, including from the home medicine cabinet.  Those who abuse pain relievers often turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative when they can no longer legally obtain their medications or afford to purchase them on the street.  Four out of five new heroin users previously abused prescription drugs.

The initiative announced by Walgreens today is a positive step toward making the disposal process more convenient and available.  DEA believes that these new methods of disposal, including drop-boxes located in pharmacies and law enforcement agencies, as well as mail back programs, will enhance our efforts to remove unwanted prescription drugs from our communities and reduce drug abuse and accidental overdoses.
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