National Take Back Drugs Day This Saturday


Check the medicine cabinet or bedside drawer. Odds are somewhere in the house is an expired bottle of prescription medications, that one or two antibiotics left in a bottle not quite finished or the gunky looking cough syrup. Dig the drugs out and take them this Saturday, Sept. 27, to a participating location in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day or mail them to an authorized collection facility.

Concerned by the rising rates of prescription drug abuse, the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was established to dispose of unneeded drugs. Patients and/or their relatives can take the medications to a facility. They will also be allowed to sent prescription drugs through the mail to an authorized collector. Special drug take back mailing packages are available at select pharmacies and places like senior citizen centers and public libraries.

Established by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the event is designed to reduce stockpiles of unneeded medications, including opioid painkillers like OxyContin, in homes. Keeping the old prescriptions in homes leaves the drugs as a tempting target for thieves or abuse by teens in the family.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was established in 2010 by the DEA to provide a safe way for people to dispose of prescription drugs and educate people about the potential abuse of medications in a home. During the last four years, more than 4.1 million pounds of medications were returned during the National Take Back Day events.

This is the first year that drugs that are controlled substances are allowed to be part of the Take Back haul. Those prescriptions include commonly abused medications like painkillers like the opioid OxyContin, anxiety medicines like Ativan as well as stimulants like Adderall. Until now, the Controlled Substances Act precluded these drugs from legally being returned to pharmacies. Patients could only dispose of the drugs by themselves or to relinquish them to law enforcement.

It used to be that unused drugs were thrown in the garbage or flushed down toilets. But, that is not considered safe and spreads the hazards or chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency prefers that prescriptions are disposed of through drug take-back programs instead of flushing them down the toilet to keep medicines from entering and polluting streams and rivers. Others suggest disposing of them in the garbage in zipped plastic baggies with some cat litter mixed in. But, that is also discouraged because of environmental concerns, besides the fact that not everyone has cat litter handy.

However, the FDA recommends flushing unused medications down the toilet when there is no other alternative. That is because the potential for poisoning a child, harming someone in the household or others abusing the prescription drugs is too great.

Check with a police station nearby, the library or a large pharmacy chain like CVS for more information about this Saturday and the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. At least it is a good excuse to clean out the medicine cabinet or wherever else prescription drugs may be stored in the home.

By Dyanne Weiss

CBS News
New York Times

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