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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, April 30, 2016

Prescription Drug Take Back Day Nets More Than 5,000 Pounds of Unwanted and Unused Pills

(MINNEAPOLIS) – Federal and local officials today in Minneapolis hosted a prescription drug take back event as part of the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Minnesotans disposed of more than 5,000 pounds of unwanted medication at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Downtown Minneapolis. On hand to participate in the take back event were federal and local officials and local advocates.

Today in Minneapolis, Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House was joined by DEA Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Wichern, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, elected officials and a representative of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy.

“Take back events, along with year-round safe disposal programs, are an important part of our efforts to decrease prescription drug misuse and overdose deaths because we know the majority of people who misuse prescription drugs obtain them from family or friends,” said Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy.

“April 30 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,” said Dennis A. Wichern, DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division. “This year will be the eleventh DEA sponsored event to join with the community to empty our medicine cabinets of unwanted, unneeded, expired medications. Misused medications can cause great harm. Safely disposing of these prescription drugs will save lives. Preventing one pill from being used for the wrong reasons is the starting point for a safer, healthier Minnesota.”

“Opioid abuse is a public health and law enforcement problem in Minnesota,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “Events like today’s DEA drug take back help to prevent abuse and addiction by providing a free opportunity for the disposal of unused and unwanted medicines.”

“The tragic consequences of opioid addiction have been devastating across Minnesota and nationwide,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek. “I urge all residents to help the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office raise awareness about reducing the risk of painkiller abuse. Clean out your medicine cabinet and routinely dispose of unwanted painkillers and medications by bringing them to a disposal box at a Sheriff’s Office facility.”

“These efforts to remove unused prescriptions from our medicine cabinets will save lives,” said Senator Chris Eaton. “If you have a prescription of any kind, keep it locked up where guests and family can't access it. We have had too many deaths from opioids in Minnesota and in the country. This simple step can make a huge difference.”

“National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, and similar events throughout the year, are very important to help get dangerous drugs out of our homes and workplaces and to shine a spotlight on the huge problems we are seeing around prescription drug addiction and overdoses,” said Nick Motu, Vice President of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy.

Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds—more than 2,750 tons—of pills. 

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, eclipsing deaths from motor vehicle crashes or firearms. The removal from homes of unwanted prescription pills that can be abused, stolen or resold is an easy way to help fight the epidemic of substance abuse and addiction. That is why local communities are also establishing ongoing drug take back programs.

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Updated April 30, 2016