Drug Enforcement Administration

New Orleans

Stephen G. Azzam, Special Agent in Charge

May 08, 2018

Contact: SA Debbie Webber

Phone Number: (504) 840-1100

DEA Brings In Record Number Of Unused Pills During 15th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Federal, state and local partners collect close to one million pounds across the country

NEW ORLEANS - Americans nationwide did their part to drop off a record number of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications during the DEA’s 15th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, at close to 6,000 sites across the country. Together with a record-setting amount of local, state and federal partners, DEA collected and destroyed close to one million pounds-nearly 475 tons-of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, making it the most successful event in DEA history.

This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 9,964,714 pounds, or 4,982 tons.

DEA’s New Orleans Field (NOFD), which covers Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, collected 43,138 pounds-over 21 tons of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at collection sites throughout the division. The amounts collected for each state within the NOFD was the following: Louisiana - 4,800 pounds; Mississippi - 4,455 pounds; Alabama - 6,074 pounds; and Arkansas - 27,809 pounds.

“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a day for every American, in every community across the country, to come together and do his or her part to fight the opioid crisis - simply by disposing of unwanted prescription medications from their medicine cabinets,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “This event - our 15th - brings us together with local, state and federal partners to fight the abuse of prescription drugs that is fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.”

“In the midst of this horrific opioid epidemic, where we’re losing over 116 people a day, it’s absolutely critical that we all get unused, expired prescription drugs out of homes and dispose of them safely at these Drug Take-Back events,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Stephen G. Azzam. “Residents in this four-state region took an important step in reducing the risk of prescription drug abuse in their communities by turning in over 43,000 pounds of medications from their homes. DEA thanks the public for their immense support to this effort to keep these drugs out of the wrong hands.”

Now in its 9th year, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-posed potential safety and health hazards.

Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications.

Complete results for DEA’s spring Take Back Day are available at www.deatakeback.com. DEA’s next Prescription Drug Take Back Day is October 27, 2018.

Parents and children are encouraged to educate themselves about the dangers of drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.JustThinkTwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.  

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