News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 28, 2010
Contact: SA Will Taylor
Public Information Officer
Drug Enforcement Administration
Chicago Field Division

Number: 312-886-2597

Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Program a Success in Minnesota Thanks to Partnership with Various Organizations

SEP 28 (Minneapolis) On Saturday, September 25, 2010, over 4,000 collection sites sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) accepted unused, expired, and unwanted prescription drugs from community members in every state, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. The program was made possible through partnership with community, public health, and law enforcement throughout the country.

In the state of Minnesota, 16 collection sites were set up to enable the safe disposal of prescription medications; 11 sites were located in the greater Twin Cities Metro area and 5 sites were established in Southwest Minnesota, in collaboration with the DEA Sioux Falls South Dakota Office. Law enforcement agencies from various counties co-sponsored the collection locations, while additional organizations made the event possible. The initiative addressed a vital public safety and health concern. In the Twin Cities metro area, citizens turned in over 4,240 pounds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, 435 pounds of which included controlled substances, such as Vicodin, Lortab, Percocet, Valium, Ativan, Xanax, and/or their generic equivalents. The number of emergency room visits attributable to pharmaceuticals alone is up 97 percent between 2004 and 2008. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. In fact, recent surveys reveal that 63 percent of teens believe that prescription drugs are easy to obtain from the medicine cabinet of friends and family. In addition, the survey revealed that 1 in 7 teens admit to abusing prescription drugs to get high in the past year.

“DEA works shoulder-to-shoulder with its state, county, and local law enforcement partners throughout the state of Minnesota to combat drug trafficking in our communities,” stated Dan Moren, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis-St Paul office of the DEA. “The prescription drug take-back initiative was designed to combat prescription drug abuse and by every measure was a tremendous success. The collaborative effort of all partnering agencies resulted in the collection of prescription medications that could have potentially made it in the hands of those it was not meant for, while also raising the level of community awareness about the dangers of prescription medication diversion and abuse.”

"The take back program is an outstanding example of the community and public safety working together on a program that has a positive and lasting effect on the well-being of the community. The Washington County Sheriff's Office is appreciative to all involved," stated Sheriff Bill Hutton, Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

"The State Patrol was pleased to be involved in this event.  Our communities are safer as a result of properly disposing of hundreds of pounds of controlled substances,” stated Mark Dunaski, Colonel Minnesota State Patrol, Department of Public Safety.

"Parents and grandparents don't want to inadvertently become drug suppliers and they told us that they were grateful for the prescription disposal event so that they could prevent teens and others from misusing medications," said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, "The outstanding participation in Hennepin County certainly demonstrates that our residents want to take an active role in reducing medication abuse."  

“The success of the take back program truly defined the need for this type of program in our community. I am glad we had the opportunity to partner with the DEA to make this event happen and look forward to future take back events,” said Sheriff Bruce Andersohn, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

"It's encouraging to know that residents of Ramsey County are taking this problem seriously and understand that prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing addiction in the county,” stated Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher. “This weekend's collection effort was critical to curb this problem, because we do not want any sort of drug in the wrong hands, even something that was once prescribed by a doctor."

“I was pleased to see the number of individuals in Dakota County that took advantage of the prescription drug take back program,” said Dakota County Sheriff David Bellows. “We look forward to implementing a more permanent program of this nature in the near future.”

Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott states, "The drug take back program was a success in Sherburne County. We had the opportunity to work with the Elk River Police Department in the removal of dangerous prescription drugs from our community. We want to thank our DEA partners for their assistance in bringing this worthwhile campaign to our community."

The event in Minnesota would not have been possible without the invaluable services provided by following:

  • Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in particular the Minnesota State Patrol
  • Law Enforcement partners in Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Sherburne, and Washington Counties
  • Minnesota State Executive Offices for the Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police Associations
  • Minnesota Pollution Control
  • Minnesota Board of Pharmacy and the Minnesota Pharmacists Association
  • Minnesota National Guard

Over the next several days the DEA will be tabulating the total weight of all prescription drugs collected at the 4,000-plus locations that were a part of the Nationwide Take-Back program, with anticipation of releasing those totals in the near future.

Members of the community are encouraged to learn more about prescription drug abuse, as well as other drugs of abuse, at www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com