Drug Enforcement Administration

San Francisco

Christopher Nielsen, Special Agent in Charge

November 02, 2016

Contact: Casey Rettig

Phone Number: (415) 436-7994

10 Tons Of Medication Collected On Take Back Day

Northern California & Central Valley residents continue to participate in national program

SAN FRANCISCO - Six years after the U.S. Drug Enforcement (DEA) launched its National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Americans continue to turn out in large numbers to rid their homes of unused medications, including controlled prescription (CPDs) such as painkillers, tranquilizers, and stimulants. 

On October 22, 2016, Northern California and Central Valley residents turned in 20,654 pounds of unwanted medications.  Nationwide the public turned in 731,269 pounds-almost 366 tons-of unused medicine.  Over the life of the program, 7.1 million (more than 3,500 tons) of prescription drugs have been removed from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, and nightstands by citizens around the country.

“Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to prescription drug abuse.  Take Back Day is a safe and efficient way to make a difference in this nationwide epidemic,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge John J. Martin.

Unused medicines in the home are a problem because the majority of the 6.4 million Americans who abused CPDs in 2015, including the almost 4 million who abused prescription painkillers, say they obtained those drugs from friends and family, including from a home medicine cabinet, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last month.  Some painkiller abusers move on to heroin:  Four out of five new heroin users started with painkillers.  Almost 30,000 people-78 a day-died from overdosing on these painkillers or heroin in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In the last two years since new regulations made the disposal of CPDs easier for patients and their caregivers, many law enforcement agencies, pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics have begun continuous collection of these medications.  To visit one of these thousands of collection sites between Take Back Days, go to the DEA Diversion site or www.rxdrugdropbox.org.  

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