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(file photo)

9,185 lbs of Medications Collected Locally During Drug Take Back Day

Oceanside CA — The final tally is in from the 8th National Prescription Take-Back Day this past Saturday, April 26, 2014. DEA and its partners took back prescription drugs at 40 locations in San Diego County and three locations in Imperial County.

Over the course of four hours, 9,185 pounds of drugs were turned into the locations in both counties.
“We are pleased to see that Southern Californians are motivated to make their homes safer for our youth,” says DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “Citizens can now take advantage of the permanent drop off boxes at over 30 locations in San Diego County in the stations of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the San Diego Police Department, Oceanside Police Department and the Chula Vista Police Department. We thank all our law enforcement partners in this effort.”

After seven previous Take Back Days spread over almost four years, 780,158 pounds (390 tons) of pills were brought to the 6,072 collection sites that DEA and its 4,423 state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners set up on April 26 so the public could discard unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs from medicine cabinets, bedside tables, and kitchen drawers. When added to that collected at previous DEA-coordinated Take-Back events, 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation.


Jill Pogue with the U.S. Probation Office sorts through prescription medications dropped of at Tri City Hospital during National Drug Take Back Day.

“DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back events provide an obviously needed and valued service to the public, while also reducing prescription drug abuse and trafficking,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “By taking these medications off their hands, our citizens know they have made their own families and communities safer. We continue to work toward making the process for disposing of controlled substance medications by users and their caregivers even easier by creating regulations that will enable the public to regularly, safely, and conveniently dispose of such medicines when they are no longer needed or wanted.”

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, secure, and environmentally responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and trafficking of medications. This is important because the non-medical use of controlled substance (CS) medications is at an all-time high, with 6.8 million Americans reporting having abused prescription drugs in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) released in 2013. That same study revealed more than 54 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers got them through friends or relatives, a statistic that includes raiding the family medicine cabinet.

The DEA’s Take-Back events are a significant piece of the Obama administration’s strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse and trafficking, which also includes education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; enhancing and encouraging the establishment of prescription drug monitoring programs in all the states; and increased enforcement to address doctor shopping and pill mills.

Take-Back Days are presently needed because the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as originally written didn’t provide a way for patients, caregivers, and pet owners to dispose of such CS medications as painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants like ADHD drugs. People were flushing their old meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash.

DEA launched its first Take-Back event in September 2010, after which the President signed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the CSA to allow people, including residents of long term care facilities, to regularly, conveniently, and safely dispose of their CS medications by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. DEA is in the process of finalizing regulations to implement the Act, publishing on December 21, 2012, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Disposal of Controlled Substances  that presented possible disposal options.

Date of Take-Back Day – Pounds Collected

Sept. 25, 2010 – 242,000

April 30, 2011 – 376,593

October 29, 2011 – 377,086

April 28, 2012 – 552,161

Sept. 29, 2012 – 488,395

April 27, 2013 – 742,497

Oct. 26, 2013 – 647,211

April 26, 2014 – 780,158