In support of National Take Back Prescriptions Drugs Day on Saturday – April 28 – physicians and law-enforcement officials are asking patients to help prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Old medications can be brought for disposal to designated “Take Back” collection sites around the country.
From a Stanford Hospital release:
“Storing unwanted prescription drugs at home or disposing of them in the trash or down the toilet may seem harmless, but the reality is that by doing so you could be putting the health of your family at risk and potentially releasing hazardous chemicals into our environment,” said Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the Pain Management Division at Stanford Hospital and associate professor of anesthesia at Stanford University School of Medicine. “I urge all patients to put safety first by taking their old drugs to their nearest collection site.”
Organized by the Drug Enforcement Agency in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies, the service is free and anonymous – no questions asked. The public can find a nearby collection site by visiting www.dea.gov, clicking on the “Got Drugs?” icon and following the links to a database, where they enter their zip code.
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 United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.
Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds – 188.5 tons – of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous Take Back events, the DEA and its partners took in almost 1 million pounds – nearly 500 tons – of pills.