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26-09-2012 | Article

Uncle Sam wants your drugs


DEA website

medwireNews: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is offering US residents another chance to clean out the medicine cabinet.

The fifth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will allow people who have a stockpile of unneeded, unwanted or out-of-date prescription medications to drop the drugs off at designated centers for safe collection and disposal throughout all 50 states and US territories, the DEA reports.

On the last Take-Back day in April 2012, US residents turned in approximately 276 tons of medication at one of 5659 designated sites. To date, local, state and tribal law enforcement and community agencies have accepted almost 774 tons of unwanted drugs.

Non-medical use of prescription drugs is surpassed only by marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in the USA, and most teenagers who abuse prescription drugs get them from the medicine cabinets of family or friends, the DEA says.

By offering safe and convenient drop-off sites, the agency hopes to prevent unused drugs from being thrown in the trash, where they can be retrieved and abused or sold, or flushed down the toilet, endangering the water supply.

"We are pleased at the response of the American people once again, and we thank them for participating and contributing to the battle against prescription drug abuse," said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, in a statement.

"While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities. Our take-back events highlight the problems related to prescription drug abuse and give our citizens an opportunity to contribute to the solution. These events are only made possible through the dedicated work and commitment of our state, federal, local, and tribal partners and DEA thanks each and every one of them for their efforts on behalf of the American people."

The DEA, a division of the US Department of Justice, has a search tool on its website to help citizens identify the closest drug drop-off site.

By Neil Osterweil, medwireNews reporter