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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Rhode Island

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 26, 2016

RI Law Enforcement to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Program

On Saturday, April 30, 2016, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rhode Islanders are encouraged to drop off their unused and expired prescription drugs at one of more than 25 locations across the state as part of the national Prescription Drug Take Back Program.  The program was created in 2010 by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prevent pill abuse and theft by allowing residents to rid their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

A list of locations and participating police departments is attached and can be found at www.dea.gov.  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. In addition, many police departments provide free drop-off boxes year-round.  Contact your local police department to see if they offer the service. ((Note: The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.)) 

“Rhode Island continues to lead the nation in illicit drug use, and we have been in the eye of the storm of heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opiate overdoses.  While State leaders recognize that we need a comprehensive approach to addressing the problem, which includes access to naloxone, increasing support for recovery programs, and prosecuting drug traffickers, much of this crisis has been borne out of the diversion of prescription drugs for illicit purposes,” said Attorney General Kilmartin.  “Ridding our homes of expired and unused prescription medications is both easy and effective manner to ensure they don’t end up in the hands of someone with an addiction.”

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 of its 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. 

United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha added, "For too many years, Americans have received far too many prescription pills, including opioids such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.   We now know that the results have been disastrous.  The overprescribing of opioids has led to addiction and death from both these prescription pills and from heroin, to which those who abuse prescription opioids often turn.   Far too often, prescription opioids, no longer needed, remain in our medicine cabinets at home, all too available to those who might abuse them.  These overfilled medicine cabinets are literally killing our friends, relatives, and in some instances our children.  It is beyond time to empty them, and take-back day is a great opportunity to do so."

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. 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. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 30th Take Back Day event, visit www.dea.gov.

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Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Prescription Drugs
Component(s): 
Press Release Number: 
16-37
Updated April 26, 2016