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DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Meets a Growing Need for Northern California Residents

MAY 08 (SAN FRANCISCO) —Central Valley and Northern California citizens showed their support for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day program by dropping off more prescription pills than ever during the April 26, 2014 event.  Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners collected more than 40,854 pounds (20 tons) of unwanted prescription medications from 207 collections sites.

“The overwhelming community response to National Prescription Drug Take Back Day highlights the value of the program and commitment of the public in combatting prescription drug abuse,” stated DEA Special Agent in Charge Jay Fitzpatrick. “The success of this event is made possible only through invaluable partnerships with our federal, state, and local law enforcement counterparts.”

Since the first DEA-coordinated Take Back Event 214,578 pounds (107 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation in Central Valley and Northern California.
 
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and trafficking of medications.  This is important because the non-medical use of controlled substance (CS) medications is at an all-time high, with 6.8 million Americans reporting having abused prescription drugs in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released in 2013.  That same study revealed more than 54 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet. 

The DEA’s Take Back events are a significant piece of the Obama administration’s strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse and trafficking, which also includes education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states; and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.

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 CS medications as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants like ADHD drugs.  People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash. 

DEA launched its first Take Back event in September 2010, after which the President signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the CSA to allow people, including residents of 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, publishing on December 21, 2012, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Disposal of Controlled Substances that presented possible disposal options.

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