National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Sept 27, 2014
Saturday, September 27, 2014 is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from 10am to 2pm. This is a nation-wide event that encourages patients to clear out their medicine cabinets of unused prescriptions and dispose of them properly. Twice a year, the Drug Enforcement Agency works with local law enforcement to set up drop-off locations where people can anonymously return the drugs. 4.1 million pounds of prescription drugs have been collected through these events in the last 4 years.
During the last Drug Take-Back Day in April, I personally dropped off about 30 prescriptions that have been sitting in a shoe box for years. As Migraineurs, we are constantly trying new meds. You may also have the same medication but in different doses as you titrated up or down. These tend to pile up. I always thought, oh maybe I’ll go back on that drug one day so I should keep it around. But chances are there is a reason I went off of it in the first place so there’s no reason to keep it around.
It didn’t occur to me until recently that having all of these prescriptions lying around was a potential hazard. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 70% of teenagers say they can easily get to their parent’s medications. I personally don’t have kids or pets that I worried about getting into my meds, but there are plenty of people that come in and out of my house often- friends, family, building maintenance from my apt building. Anyone could easily get their hands on my stash. While the majority of my meds are not the kind that thieves are looking for to get a quick high, it still makes me uneasy thinking that any of it could get in the wrong hands.
Drug Take-Back Days not only help keep prescriptions from the illegal resale market, it also provides an environmentally safe way to dispose of the medications. Typically, if you’re not hoarding your unused drugs the next logical step is to flush them down the toilet…not exactly ideal to have extra chemicals running through the waterways. (However, in a pinch the FDA suggests flushing unused meds when there is a great potential for someone to be harmed.) All drugs collected on Take-Back Days are handled and destroyed properly.
Until recently, these DEA sponsored events were the only place to get rid of unused drugs. Patients were only allowed to dispose of drugs themselves or turn them into law enforcement. This month, the DEA announced an additional process for disposing of unused drugs in order to help fight prescription drug abuse. Mail packages will be made available at pharmacies, libraries, senior centers and other public locations that can be used to mail drugs to an authorized collector. Pharmacies can also choose to register to take back medications and set up drop-off receptacles in their stores for convenience. This is a great step in fighting the drug abuse issue. However, details are still being worked out and it may be a while before it becomes commonplace according to a press release in The New York Times.
Interested in getting rid of your unused medications? To find a drop-off location near you for this Saturday’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, click here.
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