Drug Enforcement Administration

New York

Raymond P. Donovan, Special Agent in Charge

November 03, 2016

Contact: Erin Mulvey

Phone Number: (212) 337-2906

Results Are In And Thousands Of Pounds Of Unused, Unwanted And Expired Medication Was Cleaned Out Of New Yorkers Medicine Cabinets

38,575 pounds collected from 249 collection sites throughout New York state

(NEW YORK -   - 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, the public turned in 38,575 pounds of unused, unwanted and expired medication at 249 collection sites in New York State.  Nationwide, 731,269 pounds-almost 366 tons-of medication was collected at almost 5,200 collection sites.  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.

“Take back programs offer a safe, simple, and anonymous way to keep dangerous prescription drugs out of the wrong hands and prevent substance abuse,” said Chuck Rosenberg, Acting DEA Administrator. 

“By removing unnecessary medication from your home, you are removing the risk of unnecessary accidents.  New studies indicate that among kids ages 1 to 4, hospitalizations for prescription opioid poisoning increased by 205% throughout the United States. This Take Back initiative is designed to give families an easy way to safeguard their home and prevent drug abuse,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge James J. Hunt.    

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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