The Drug Enforcement Administration will join forces tomorrow with more than 4,000 local, tribal, and community partners at more than 5,000 collection sites to collect potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The effort will help prevent these drugs, including opioids, from falling into the wrong hands and contributing to a lethal drug abuse epidemic in the United States.
On Saturday, Oct. 28, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. local time, individuals can take pills and other solid forms of medication at nearby collection sites (DEA cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps), which can be located at www.DEATakeBack.com (link is external) or by calling 800-882-9539. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
The DEA action comes just days after President Donald J. Trump announced the mobilization of his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis.
“Today the United States is facing the worst drug crisis in our history, as more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “We lose one American life to drugs every nine minutes. This crisis affects every American, as it is filling up our emergency rooms, our foster homes, and our cemeteries.
“President Trump is right to make this issue a top priority for his administration, and his plan will make a difference for millions of Americans. It will help those suffering from addiction get the treatment they need and prevent many new addictions from starting in the first place. I commend him for recognizing the public health emergency that this is.”
“This Department of Justice is committed to doing its part to turn the tide. This year we have conducted the largest opioid-related health care fraud takedown in American history, charging some 120 defendants with opioid-related crimes. Since then I have taken additional steps to stop opioid-related fraud, creating a new data analytics team that can find evidence of overprescribing, and appointing 12 prosecutors to focus solely on this issue. I firmly believe that these steps will prevent drug abuse and addiction and save American lives.
“We will continue to do our part in this effort, prosecuting drug traffickers and those who exploit vulnerable people suffering from addiction, so that every American can be safe and live out their God-given potential."
On Oct. 17, the Justice Department announced the indictments of two Chinese nationals and their North American based traffickers and distributors for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues and other opiate substances in the United States. In July, the department announced the seizure of the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet, AlphaBay, which operated for over two years on the dark web and was used to sell deadly illegal drugs, including synthetic opioids like fentanyl, throughout the world. The international operation was led by the United States and involved cooperation with law enforcement authorities around the world.
In addition, DEA this week announced the formation of six new heroin enforcement teams in hard hit areas such as West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, New York and Massachusetts.
The Take-Back initiative by the DEA addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. 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. DEA launched its prescription drug take back program when both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration advised the public that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—posed potential safety and health hazards.
“Disposing of leftover painkillers or other addictive medicines in the house is one of the best ways to prevent a member of your family from becoming a victim of the opioid epidemic,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson. “More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance. The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has led to the largest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen.”
Last April the public turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds—more than 4,050 tons—of pills.