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Area Residents Turn in Tons of Unused Medication During DEA’s Seventh National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

NOV 06 (LOS ANGELES) – Anthony D. Williams, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division, announced today that area residents turned in more than 29,740 pounds (15 tons) of medication as part of the seventh DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Program.  This event was held on Saturday, October 26th, and provided a safe, convenient and responsible means for disposing unused and unwanted medications.  DEA joined with more than 100 state and local law enforcement partners to host 186 collection sites throughout the area.  

“Since DEA’s first prescription drug take-back event in 2010, area residents have turned in more than 79 tons (158,496 pounds) of unused and unwanted medication, significantly decreasing the availability of these prescription drugs for abuse, misuse or diversion,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony D. Williams.  “We will continue to work with our law enforcement and community partners to ensure citizens are provided opportunities for safe and convenient disposal of these medications.”

The DEA Los Angeles Field Division encompasses seven counties in the greater Los Angeles area, the states of Nevada and Hawaii, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI).

In the Los Angeles area, local law enforcement agencies from Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties collected 25,383 pounds (12 ½ tons).  In Nevada, agents and local law enforcement officers collected 1,777 pounds of prescription medications.  In Hawaii, Guam, and the CMNI, agents and local law enforcement officers collected 2,580 pounds of medications at locations throughout the islands. 

A total of 647,211 pounds (324 tons) of prescription medication was collected nationwide during this most recent event. When added to the collections from DEA’s previous six Take-Back events, more than 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation nationwide.

Many collection sites provided “drive-thru” service to provide convenient access for residents.  Community groups and coalitions also joined with local law enforcement agencies to provide drug awareness literature and community resource information.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Prescription drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high; more Americans (6.8 million) currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens like LSD, and inhalants combined, according to the 2012 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.

Take-Back Days are presently needed because the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as originally written didn’t provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of such controlled substance (CS) medications such as painkillers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants.  People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, but in recent years medicines have been found in the nation’s water supplies, and medications were being retrieved from the trash by those who would abuse or sell them. 

To give people a more environmentally responsible and secure way to dispose of their meds, DEA launched its first Take-Back event in September 2010.  Four days later, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the CSA to allow people and, in some instances, long term care facilities to regularly, conveniently, and safely dispose of their CS medications by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. DEA is in the process of finalizing regulations to implement the Act.

The national results of the last Take-Back Days to include collection amounts by state can be seen at www.dea.gov.


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