Washington, D.C. – The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its national and community partners yesterday announced that they will give the public another opportunity to prevent medicine abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs on April 30 when the DEA and its partners will hold their second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day at sites nationwide.
For several years now, CADCA members across the country have been hosting successful take back programs with local law enforcement and the DEA.
“We commend our partners at the DEA for leading a nationwide effort, which will both raise awareness and keep a massive amount of prescription medicines from getting in the wrong hands and being misused and abused,” said CADCA’s Chairman and CEO Gen. Arthur T. Dean. “It’s like a spring cleaning for unwanted prescription drugs.”
Last September, Americans turned in more than 242,000 pounds—121 tons—of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 sites operated by more than 3,000 of the DEA’s state and local law enforcement partners. The agency hopes to collect even more this spring by opening the event to long-term care facilities.
One of CADCA’s coalitions, The Alaska Safe Medicine Alliance, in Anchorage, Alaska, have been working with their local pharmacist association to make policy recommendations to the state legislature for an ongoing, state-wide disposal program. Program Manager Mary Sullivan said proper drug disposal can be a problem in their state. Their second drug take back event, held in conjunction with the DEA’s national event, collected more than 1300 pounds of prescription drugs at four sites. This spring, the coalition hopes to increase the drugs “dumped” and increase awareness.
To further help coalitions respond to this epidemic, CADCA designed the “Rx Abuse Prevention Toolkit: From Awareness to Action.” This unique toolkit provides the facts, approaches, strategies and messages that coalitions can use to move communities beyond that first stage of awareness into action. A copy of the toolkit can be downloaded at http://www.cadca.org/resources/detail/rx-abuse-prevention-toolkit.
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 2009 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.
“The overwhelming public response to DEA's first nationwide Take-Back event last fall not only rid homes of potentially harmful prescription drugs, but was an unprecedented opportunity to educate everyone about the growing prescription drug abuse problem," said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “Studies have shown that, for many, prescription drugs are the very first drugs they abuse—and all too often they aren’t the last. That is why we are committed to helping Americans keep their homes safe by ridding their medicine cabinets of expired, unused, and unwanted drugs.”
“I encourage every American to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to safely dispose of unused, un-needed, or expired prescription drugs,” said Gil Kerlikowkse, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “Preventing these readily available and potentially deadly drugs from being diverted and misused is something each and every one of us can do to help reduce the epidemic of prescription drug abuse that is harming so many Americans.”
The public can find a nearby collection site by visiting www.dea.gov, clicking on the “Got Drugs?” icon, and following the links to a database, where they enter their zip code. Law enforcement agencies interested in operating one or more collection sites on April 30 can register with the DEA by calling the DEA Field Division office in their area.
Four days after last fall’s event, 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 to 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 has begun drafting regulations to implement the Act.