DEA Set to Host Another Drug Take-Back Day

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will lead the 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this weekend.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will lead the 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this weekend.

Over the past 5 years, the DEA has collected and destroyed 5.5 million pounds of unused prescription drugs, and now it’s continuing its efforts to gather and properly dispose of potentially dangerous unused, unwanted, and expired medications.

During the last drug take-back day on September 26, 2015, alone, federal, state, and local authorities collected more than 702,365 pounds of unwanted medications, which the DEA touted as a “big success.”

Those wishing to clear their medicine cabinets during the upcoming take-back day can visit any of the 5000 collection sites across the country this Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 AM to 2 PM local time. DEA officials will staff the locations, and the service is completely free of charge and free of questions.

Notably, the DEA will accept pills and patches, but not liquids, needles, or sharps of any kind.

The goal of the event is simple: physically remove unwanted drugs to eliminate the potential for abuse.

“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,” the DEA stated in a press release.

Some of the most common medications involved in prescription drug overdose deaths are hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and methadone—the majority of which are obtained from home medicine cabinets, family, and friends. Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of injury-related deaths, having surpassed car accidents.

“The numbers are shocking—approximately 46,000 Americans die each year from drug-related deaths. More than half of those are from heroin and prescription opioids,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg in a press release. “With 4 out of 5 new heroin users starting with prescription medications, I know our take-back program makes a real difference.”

Even the President recognizes the importance of prescription drug take-back events. He recently asked Congress for $1.1 billion to fund related efforts that include prevention strategies.

Beyond the opioid abuse epidemic, drug take-back days also serve to help to curb the number of children who accidentally ingest medications. A report from Safe Kids Worldwide estimates that 59,000 children end up in the emergency department due to accidental poisonings.

Pharmacists should take this opportunity to educate patients on the importance of appropriate drug disposal to prevent accidental ingestion and prescription drug abuse and diversion.