Latest drug take-back day most successful yet

May 3, 2013

National Prescription Drug Take-Back nets 371 tons of Rx meds

On Saturday, April 27, Americans turned in 742,497 pounds of unused prescription medications at 5,829 locations across the country, making the Sixth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day twice as successful as last year’s event. When this year's haul was added to the collections from five previous national take-back events, more than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of prescription medications were removed from circulation.

Sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and facilitated by 4,312 state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies nationwide, the annual Take-Bake Day accepted controlled substances, other prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, liquid products, and creams.

The goals of the event were twofold. According to the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs compared to those who used cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined. The study also revealed that more than 70% of people who abused prescription pain relievers obtained them from family or friends, so one target of the take-back event was removal of as many ignored or forgotten medications as possible from America’s drawers, cupboards, and medicine chests, in order to prevent loss of life and unnecessary tragedy.

In addition, when these products are thrown away in the trash or flushed down toilets, the result is increased contamination of soil and water tables. By handing in expired, unused, or unwanted pharmaceuticals at local collection sites for appropriate disposal, individuals could help conserve rather than degrade the environment.

In 2010, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to allow the DEA to develop permanent, ongoing, and responsible methods for disposal of controlled-substance medications, which the CSA had previously omitted to establish.

On December 21, 2012, DEA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Disposal of Controlled Substances that seeks to implement that act. For more information about the proposed rule, watch for the upcoming article by legal columnist Ned Milenkovich in the May 15 issue of Drug Topics.