NEW YORK – With opioid overdose deaths increasing during the pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration is holding its 20th Take Back Day on Saturday, April 24th. DEA’s October 2020 Take Back Day brought in a record-high amount of expired, unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs. Over the 10-year span of Take Back Day, DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs. With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 87,200 Americans dying as a result of a drug overdose in a one-year period (Sept. 1, 2019 to Sept. 1, 2020), the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 health emergency, accelerating significantly during the first months of the pandemic.
DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said, “This past year was a stark reminder that public health is a priority, and while DEA is focused on enforcement we also provide important tools to stop drug abuse before it starts,” said. “Programs like Take Back Day make it easy for families to remove unused threats of abuse in their homes while encouraging discussion about the tragic dangers associated with opioid use and misuse.”
“Just as we were beginning to make great strides, we have seen a tragic increase in the number of, not only opioid overdoses, but also deaths during this global pandemic,” stated U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., of the Western District of New York. “The pandemic has resulted in many people spending more time alone, distanced from loved ones and friends making this year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day that much more important. Removing old or unused prescription medications from our medicine cabinets just might help to prevent an overdose or to reduce the chances of creating a future opioid user.”
Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon said, “On Take Back Day, DEA makes our communities safer by collecting unneeded prescription drugs. I urge every adult to take advantage of this safe, convenient and anonymous way to empty their medicine cabinets of unused medication that could be misused by a loved one.”
“Through Drug Take Back Day, we are reminded of the ways in which the alarming opioid epidemic has exposed the hidden dangers and potential abuses of prescription drugs,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Mark J. Lesko. “The U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is proud to be part of DEA’s mission to end prescription drug abuse and we encourage all residents to dispose of unused and expired medicines at official disposal locations.”
Audrey Strauss, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said: “We wholeheartedly support the DEA’s Drug Take Back Day, and we encourage anyone with expired or unused prescription medications to take advantage of this program. By disposing of dangerous and potentially lethal substances safely, you can possibly prevent a tragedy.”
“It’s important to keep our own homes safe by regularly cleaning out medicine cabinets and any other areas where we store our pharmaceuticals,” said DEA Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans. “Bringing unused or expired medications to a local collection site for safe disposal helps protect your loved ones and the environment.”
The public can drop off potentially dangerous prescription medications at collection sites which will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations in order to maintain the safety of all participants and local law enforcement.
DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Liquids (including intravenous solutions), syringes and other sharps, and illegal drugs will not be accepted. DEA will continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges at its drop off locations provided lithium batteries are removed.
Helping people dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce addiction and stem overdose deaths.
Learn more about the event at www.deatakeback.com, or by calling 800-882-9539.