Saturday Marks Fourth Annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
April 27, 2012

Saturday Marks Fourth Annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Connie K. Ho for

Using the slogan “Got Drugs,” the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), it allows members of the community to turn in unwanted or unused prescription drugs in a safe manner.

“68 percent of new users and 66 percent of occasional users got their pills from a friend or relative,” noted Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in a teleconference.

This is the fourth year for the National Take-Back Initiative and it will be held at over 5,000 local law enforcement sites. During last year´s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, over 377,086 pounds of “unwanted or expired” medication was disposed of at 5,327 sites all over the United States. Combining the total of the past three National Prescription Take-Back Days, sites have received over 995,185 pounds of medication.

“The amount of prescription drugs turned in by the American public during the past three Take-Back Day events speaks volumes about the need to develop a convenient way to rid homes of unwanted or expired prescription drugs,” commented DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart in a prepared statement. “DEA remains hard at work to establish just such a drug disposal process, and will continue to offer take-back opportunities until the proper regulations are in place.”

The events seem to have had some effect as there has been a decrease in the number of young people abusing prescription drugs.

"That's an important trend that we hope is a harbinger for declines in abuse," noted Kerlikowske, in an article by Med Page Today.

Furthermore, the DEA´s Take-Back events are aligned with the White House´s goal to create strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse.

“With the continued support and hard work of our more than 3,945 state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners, these three events have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, and increased awareness of this critical public health issue,” continued Leonhart in the statement.

Apart from encouraging people to clean their homes of prescription drugs and to help to eliminate unwanted or expired medications, the ONDCP hopes to promote instituting health education programs, creating prescription drug monitoring programs, and increasing enforcement on “doctor shopping” and “pill mills.”

"There are penalties, there are ways to charge, and we've had successes," Leonhart remarked on the subject of prosecuting or imprisoning doctors for illegally prescribing drugs in the Med Page article.

Lastly, the ONDCP will look into the increased number of robberies and holdups at pharmacies by people who are desperate for narcotics.

"When you have a street value of $50, $60, $70, $80 dollars a pill, there's a financial incentive even if you're not involved in the addiction issue," mentioned ONDCP director Kerlikowske.

To find out more about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and to find out a community take-bite site in a local community, log online to the DEA website for a list of law enforcement stations that will be participating.