Chicago — In a nationwide effort to prevent medication abuse and diversion by ridding homes of unwanted and unnecessary prescription drugs, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is again supporting the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day taking place on Oct. 29.
"Unused prescription medicines that remain in homes can be misused or abused if they get in the wrong hands of children, family or friends," said Allan Korn, MD, BCBSA senior vice president and chief medical officer. "The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies nationwide continue to make patient safety a healthcare priority and we encourage all Americans to take part in this nationwide event to help curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic. We commend the DEA's efforts of providing a safe and easy way for Americans to dispose of their unnecessary prescription drugs."
More than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2010 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that each day approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.
A study by the Journal of Pediatrics reports a 30 percent increase in emergency room visits for children under age five due to medication poisoning for the period 2001 to 2008. In addition, it's advised that usual methods of disposing unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.
For the second time this year, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, the DEA will have more than 5,270 locations across the U.S. available for the public to dispose unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For more information and to find a collection site near you, visit www.dea.gov, click on "Got Drugs?" and enter your zip code.
The DEA, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, previously conducted National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days in September 2010 and April 2011. Nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation participated in these events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills.