The American people have again responded overwhelmingly to the most recent DEA-led National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
On April 28, citizens turned in a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,659 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories.
Los Alamos Police Capt. Randy Foster reported that local detectives received 8.5 pounds of unwanted or expired medications at the Drug Take Back booth set up at the Los Alamos Medical Center parking lot April 28.
When the results of the four Take Back Days to date are combined, the DEA and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 1.5 million pounds (774 tons) of medication from circulation.
“We are pleased at the response of the American people once again, and we thank them for participating and contributing to the battle against prescription drug abuse,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, who added that 4,268 agencies participated with DEA nationwide in Saturday’s event. “While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities. Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution. These events are only made possible through the dedicated work and commitment of our state, federal, local, and tribal partners and DEA thanks each and every one of them for their efforts on behalf of the American people.”
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–more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.
Four days after the first Take-Back event in September 2010, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is in the process of drafting regulations to implement the Act.