US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on May 6th, in a press release, discussed the findings of the the ‘11th National Drug Take-Back Day’,which it hosted last Saturday. The event allows Americans to return unwanted or expired prescription drugs for safe disposal and prevention of drug misuse. It was found that this year highest amount of unwanted prescription drugs were collected from public as compared to the last five years, since the inception of this event in 2010.The event is celebrated twice per year.
DEA started the campaign of cleaning out the unwanted, unneeded or expired medications for safe prescription drug disposal and to prevent these from ending up in wrong hands five years ago. The basic aim of the initiative was to bring awareness about the dangers of unused drugs, including increased prescription drug abuse or theft.
The analysis of the drugs collected by DEA, along with more than 4,200 of its prominent law enforcement partners,showed a cumulative collection of unwanted drugs of worth more than 447 tons(893,498 pounds) from the 50 states of the country. The results of this year’s drug collection were found to be the highest as compared to the previous years by 57 tons (114,000 pounds). According to the DEA, the second highest drug collection occurred in the spring of 2014 when the entire collection of drugs weighed 390 tons(114,000 pounds).
The major US states from which drugs were taken back included Texas (almost 40 tons), California (32 tons), Wisconsin (31 tons), Illinois (24 tons) and Massachusetts (24 tons).
DEA’s press release talked about a survey which suggested that the unwanted drugs result in the prescription drug abuse which most of the users report getting from friends or family members. Keeping in mind the quantity the drugs are collected back, the ‘move’ seems to have been widely accepted by the people.
The drug enforcement agency also discussed the most recent stats of opioid addiction by CDC records which accounts for 20,808 drug overdoses making it 78 cases a day as calculated in 2014. The DEA’s statement also pointed out the fact that 8 out of 10 new heroin users start the addiction by abusing prescription painkillers and then move to heroin after losing access to these prescribed painkillers.
DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg gave his viewpoint about the efficacy of this initiative by saying, “These results show that more Americans than ever are taking the important step of cleaning out their medicine cabinets and making homes safe from potential prescription drug abuse or theft,” and added, “Unwanted, expired or unused prescription medications are often an unintended catalyst for addiction. Take-back events like these raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and offer the public a safe and anonymous way to help prevent substance abuse.”
FDA also believes that the unnecessary prescription drugs are the underlying cause of the opioid epidemic and in majority of cases occurs when people start taking the drugs prescribed to others.
The Parker PolicedDepartment collects these potentially harmful drugs twice a year and the list of some registered locations are given on the department’s website. The prescription drugs other than chemotherapy and radioactive substances, some illicit drugs, needles and sharps,mercury thermometers and pressurized canisters are accepted. The state’s police department has provided guidelines recommended by the ‘Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’ for the disposal of the sharp items and syringes. The directions urge the public to avoid throwing these non-recyclable materials in the common waste bin.
To ensure the safe disposal of these items the state also provides option of ‘a sharps mail back program’ through which the service provider sends a prepaid sharps collection container in addition to a return box. The person can thus dump the sharp items into the drop box and the container is then taken back to the medical waste treatment facility for standardized processing and disposal.
The US Food and Drug Administration while supporting the DEA’s initiative held an advance collection service on Wednesday, April 27, for the staff members of the FDA. The staff members were encouraged to bring the unwanted, unused, or expired prescription drugs to the FDA campus for safe disposal. The official blog post of the FDA reported a collection of over 200 pounds of unused medications that otherwise would have stayed in the kitchen cabinets or medicine boxes.
FDA also indicates the harmful consequences of keeping the undesired medicines at home and endorses the step taken by the local communities as a positive step resulting in prevention of unnecessary deaths due to accidental medication exposure. FDA’s blog stated, “In the last two decades, FDA has received more than 30 reports of accidental exposure to the powerful pain medication in fentanyl patches – most of them in children under two years old. Tragically, 12 of these incidents required hospitalization and another 12 were deadly.”
The results from the previous 10 Take-Back Day events reported cleaning out drugs of over 5.5 million pounds. The people take active part in the event due to the free disposal service which does not require any questioning about the source or quantity of the drugs while keeping the identity of the person undisclosed.