DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Brings in 745,000 Pounds of Unneeded Medications, Continues Fight Against Opioid Epidemic
Washington, D.C., – The DEA, along with its law enforcement partners, removed close to 745,000 pounds of unneeded prescriptions from medicine cabinets across the country this past Saturday, October 23rd, as part of DEA’s ongoing commitment to turn the tide against the U.S. opioid epidemic. Following last month’s 21st National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the program has removed more than 15.2 million pounds of medication from circulation since its inception.
The DEA’s Washington Division, headed by Special Agent in Charge, Jarod Forget, removed close to 30,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs all across Maryland (~10,400 lbs removed), Virginia (~18,350 lbs removed), and Washington, D.C (~1,200 lbs removed). With close to 5,000 collection sites nationwide, DEA and its more than 4,200 state and local law enforcement partners came together to help the public rid their homes of unneeded medications—those that are old, unwanted, or no longer needed—that too often become a gateway to addiction. These efforts align directly with DEA’s priority to combat the rise of overdoses plaguing the United States.
“DEA’s National Prescription Take Back Day addresses a vital public safety and public health issue in our area,” said Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of DEA Washington Division. “We’re working with our partners across the DMV to highlight the problems associated with prescription drug abuse and give area residents an opportunity to contribute to the solution.”
According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a majority of people who misused a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States, marking the largest number of drug-related deaths ever recorded in a year. Opioid-related deaths accounted for 75 percent of all overdose deaths in 2020.
“On DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, communities across America came together to rid medicine cabinets of unneeded medications, helping to prevent prescription drug misuse,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “Take Back Day is a critical effort to curb the historic surge in U.S. overdoses. We know prevention starts at home. The simple step of clearing out medications that are no longer needed makes our homes safer, prevents prescription drug misuse, and, ultimately, can help save lives.”
DEA’s Take Back Day program is more important than ever before. Last month, DEA issued a Public Safety Alert and launched the One Pill Can Kill public awareness campaign to warn Americans of a surge in deadly, fake prescription pills driven by drug traffickers seeking to exploit the U.S. opioid epidemic and prescription pill misuse. Along with the alert came a warning that the only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. Any pills that do not meet this standard are unsafe and potentially deadly. DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day reflects DEA’s commitment to Americans’ safety and health, encouraging the public to remove unneeded medications from their homes as a measure of preventing medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting.
Complete results from DEA’s 21st National Prescription Drug Take Back Day are available at www.DEATakeBack.com. For those who missed DEA’s Take Back Day, there are opportunities to regularly and safely dispose of unneeded medications at more than 13,000 pharmacies, hospitals, police departments, and businesses working to help clean out medicine cabinets throughout the year.