Drug Enforcement Agency Drug Take-Back Day Program for Safe Drug Disposal
Many of us have expired medications in our cabinets. May be it was a pain killer that you never finished, or medications that were prescribed and discontinued, or the bottle of Tylenol that has been on the shelf for several years. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) these unused medications in the home are dangerous and are a significant health hazard. 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.
Most of us flush unused medications down the toilet or throw them in the trash. Flushing medications may increase the amount of trace drugs in our water systems and throwing them in the trash does not prevent pets or children from accidental exposure to these drugs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided guidance on how to properly dispose medications. The recommendations by the FDA include using community drug take-back programs that allow medications to be brought to a centralized location for disposal.
The DEA has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2013. Bring your medications to local collection sites for disposal. The service is free and anonymous. This will help everyone prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Drug take-back day is a reminder that safe drug disposal is important.
Last September, Americans turned in 244 tons of prescription drugs at over 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. In its five previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 2 million pounds—over a thousand tons—of pills.
This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act.
As responsible citizens we should all make an effort and contribute to medication safety. Healthcare professionals should educate patients and encourage them to dispose medications appropriately.
To find out more details and where to take-back medications in your area visit the DEA drug disposal website.
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