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Press Release

DEA Announces 19th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina
DEA highlights many ways to dispose of unwanted, unused prescription drugs during pandemic

WASHINGTON – DEA is holding its 19th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 24 at locations across the country. The nationwide event aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Collection sites will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations in order to maintain the safety of all participants and local law enforcement.

“The initiative – now in its tenth year – addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” said DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Together with our partners, we are not only holding National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but offering other ways to dispose of unwanted, unused, and expired prescription medications.”

“Even in the midst of the pandemic, DEA’s nineteenth take-back event will allow Americans to safely and properly dispose of their unwanted/unused prescription medications,” said the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division Robert J. Murphy. “Collection sites will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations in order to maintain the safety of all participants and local law enforcement. DEA will work hand-in-hand with a number of law enforcement, Tribal and community partners, all in effort to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse.”

“Many people don’t know how to properly dispose of old medication.  So, it is either disposed of improperly, which can seriously damage the environment, or not discarded, which can cause medications to all too often end up in the wrong hands,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Robert J. Higdon, Jr.  “DEA is providing an important public service.  I encourage everyone to get rid of their old, unused and unneeded prescription medicine in the proper way.  DEA is making it easier for all of us and I thank them again for this twice a year effort.”

North Carolinians participating in the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) 18th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Initiative (NTBI) held on Saturday, October 26, turned in 38,541 pounds of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at sites set up throughout the state.  This was the highest amount ever collected during the previous 17 Rx drug take back events. Given the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, DEA wants to ensure that the public is aware of other ways they can dispose of unwanted prescription drugs without having to leave their homes. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have tips on how to safely dispose of drugs at home.

In addition to DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, prescription drugs can be disposed of at any of the 11,000 DEA authorized collectors at any time throughout the year. For more information, visit: 

DEA also encourages the public to reach out to their local law enforcement to find out if they have any permanent drug disposal locations throughout their local community.

DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms. DEA will also accept vape pens or other e-cigarette devices from individual consumers, only after the batteries are removed from the devices. If the battery cannot be removed, individual consumers can check with large electronic chain stores who may accept the vape pen or e-cigarette devices for proper disposal. Liquids, including intravenous solutions, syringes and other sharps, and illegal drugs cannot be dropped off. This service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

For more information on DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and to find a collection site near you, visit

Updated October 22, 2020

Prescription Drugs