National Rx Take-Back Day is Sept. 27; new options for Rx disposal

Thursday, September 18, 2014

prescription drugs

On Saturday, Sept. 27, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will host National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies nationwide. To find a take-back location near you, click here or call 1-800-882-9539.

Prescription drug abuse is the intentional use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed or for the experience or feeling it causes. According to a national survey, more than 6.75 million Americans abuse prescription drugs and studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA reports that nearly 110 Americans die every day from drug-related overdoses, and about half of those overdoses are related to opioids, a class of drug that includes prescription painkillers and heroin. More than two-thirds (70 percent) of people who misuse prescription painkillers for the first time report obtaining the drugs from friends or relatives, including from the home medicine cabinet.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day addresses this vital public safety and public health issue for those who want to dispose of old and unused prescription medications safely. Since the DEA began sponsoring Prescription Drug Take-Back days in 2010, more than 4.1 million pounds (over 2,100 tons) of medication has been collected at over 6,000 sites manned by law enforcement partners throughout all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.

In order to bolster the DEA's work against prescription drug abuse, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Sept. 8 new rules that will significantly expand drug take-back efforts and offer new ways for people to safely dispose of old or unused prescription drugs. The new rules are part of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010. In addition to authorizing new drop-off sites, the program will allow patients and family members to mail prescription medications to authorized collectors using pre-paid mail-back packages that they can obtain from their local pharmacy and other locations. The new rules also permit long-term-care facilities to do the same on behalf of residents or former residents of their facilities.

According to the DEA, prior to the new rules, there were no legal provisions for patients to rid themselves of unwanted pharmaceutical controlled substances except to give them to law enforcement. Also, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals were prohibited from accepting them. Most people flushed their unused drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or kept them in the household medicine cabinet.

DEA’s goal in implementing the new rules is to expand the options available to safely and securely dispose of potentially dangerous prescription medications on a routine basis. The new rules allow:

  • manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, narcotic treatment programs, retail pharmacies, and hospitals/clinics with an on-site pharmacy to register with the DEA to become authorized collectors of unused prescription drugs and /or operate a destruction or mail-back program. 
  • retail pharmacies and hospitals/clinics with an on-site pharmacy to operate collection receptacles at long-term care facilities. 

The public may find authorized collectors in their communities by calling the DEA Office of Diversion Control’s Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539.

The new rules were officially published on Sept. 9 and will take effect on October 9. Click here to read the new rules and get additional information about proper and safe prescription drug disposal.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice