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Press Release

U.S. Attorney’s Office Urges Participation In National Drug Take Back Day

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG – As the April 24th Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day approaches, Acting United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler urges the public to participate in the biannual event and remove dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs from your home, where they could be stolen or abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens.

Since it was established in 2010, DEA has held 19 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events, which have, collectively, removed 13,684,848 pounds (more than 6,842 tons) of medications from circulation. The disposal service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and solid forms of medication.  Vaping devices and cartridges will also be accepted, so long as the lithium batteries are removed.  Liquids including intravenous solutions and syringes, as well as illegal drugs, will not be accepted.  All collection sites will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations to maintain the safety of all participants and local law enforcement.

“In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the public should not forget we are still in the midst of an opioid epidemic that has only worsened during the pandemic,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler. “Over 81,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020 which represented a significant increase from 2019. Getting rid of excess prescription drugs in the home will help save lives and I urge the public to participate in this very worthwhile endeavor.”

“DEA and its partners collected a record amount at its last Take Back event, making it the largest collection since the program began in 2010,” said Jonathan A. Wilson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Philadelphia Field Division. “This event brings to light how unused medications can end up in the wrong hands.” 

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisoning 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.  Additionally, opioid overdose deaths have increased during the pandemic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert in December indicating a significant increase in overdose deaths from May 2019 through May 2020, including concerning trends during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 81,000 people in the United States died of a drug overdose in just one year. This is the largest number of drug overdoses on record in the United States within a one- year period and an 18 percent increase in deaths year over year.

The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 health emergency, but accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic. Synthetic opioids, such as illicit fentanyl, are the primary driver of the increases in overdose deaths. More people die each year from drug overdose than from traffic accidents or firearms – a staggering statistic that challenges how people perceive the deaths and overdose of people addicted to opioids.

For more information about the event or to locate a collection site near you, visit the DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day web site at or call 1-800-882-9539.

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Updated April 15, 2021