National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
Free and safe medication disposal will once again be available nationwide - with no questions asked.
On Saturday, October 26, 2013 from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm local time, communities will team up with law enforcement to host the seventh National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. At the last Take-Back Day in April 2013, over 742,497 pounds (371 tons) of unwanted or expired medications were surrendered for safe and proper disposal at over 5,800 sites. The DEA collected 50 percent more pills than they did at the previous Take-Back Day 6 months earlier.
Prescription medications play an important role in the health of millions of Americans. However, expired medications or unused drugs often stay in the back of cabinets for months or even years. These expired drugs can pose significant health hazards to toddlers, teens and even family pets. Some medications are so potent that even one dose could be fatal if accidentally ingested.
There are other safety issues as well: a U.S. government report shows that more than 70 percent of people who first misuse prescription drugs get them from their friends or relatives, or simply take them without asking. Doctors and the Internet also continue to be a source of abused drugs. According to the CDC, prescription pain medications cause roughly 15,000 overdose deaths annually in the U.S., which is more than total deaths due to heroin and cocaine combined. According to a 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report, over 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits occurred in 2011 due to prescription drug abuse, equivalent to 50 percent of all drug-related ED visits. Of these 2.5 million ED visits, over 488,000 were due to misuse of opioid-related prescription drugs such as oxycodone or hydrocodone. These numbers stress the need for proper disposal of unused or expired prescription medications.
The “Drug Take-Back” initiative aims to reduce the prescription drug abuse epidemic occurring in the United States. Prescription drug diversion, misuse and abuse are leading to alarming rates of drug addiction. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 6.8 million Americans or 2.6 percent of the population currently abuse prescription drugs such as pain relievers, stimulants, and tranquilizers and sedatives. Drug disposal at local community sites will help to decrease a growing public health and safety concern, safeguard homes, and provide an environmentally friendly answer to neglected medications. Throwing away medications in trash cans or flushing them down the toilet can be a safety and health hazard.
This month's event marks the seventh National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. In total, close to 2.8 million pounds of unused or expired drugs were collected during the previous six events. “Take-Back” events will be scheduled every six months until the DEA has finalized a process for consumers to safely dispose of their unwanted medications.
The DEA’s “Take-Back” initiative is one of four strategies under the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion in the United States. Additional strategies include education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; establishing prescription drug monitoring programs in all 50 states; and increased enforcement to address illicit methods of prescription drug diversion.
Local Drug Take-Back Day collections sites can be found by phoning 1-800-882-9539.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Abuse Warning Network, 2011: National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4760, DAWN Series D-39. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013.
Last updated: 2013-10-12 by L. Anderson, PharmD.