DEA collects more than 10 million pounds of prescription drugs

LOUISVILLE – With the robust participation of Americans nationwide, DEA and its law enforcement partners have now surpassed its 10 million pound goal and collected nearly 11 million pounds of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications over the course of 16 successful DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back events.

During the 16th semiannual event on Oct. 27, DEA and federal, state and local partners disposed of more than 900,000 pounds of prescription medications collected at nearly 6,000 sites across the country. Together with almost 5,000 local, state and federal partners, DEA collected and destroyed more than 457 tons of potentially dangerous leftover prescription drugs.

This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 10,878,950 pounds, or 5439.5 tons.  Within DEA’s Louisville Field Division, which encompasses Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, nearly 50,000 pounds of medications were collected at sites throughout the three states.  Tennessee took in the most, with residents there turning in almost 29,000 pounds of medications; followed by Kentucky, which collected just over 13,000 pounds; and West Virginia, with just over 7,500 pounds collected.

“The results of our most recent Take Back Day clearly demonstrate a need for this initiative as a tool in the fight against America’s opioid crisis,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “The success of this event is a direct reflection of DEA’s commitment to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths in the U.S. Together, we are all helping to make a difference to keep our friends and families safe.”

“We’re very pleased with the amount of narcotics we’re keeping off the streets with the Take-Back initiative,” said D. Christopher Evans, Special Agent In Charge of DEA’s Louisville Field Division.  “We’ve seen a steady increase in the amount of medications we’re collecting with each Take-Back and I am heartened by the amount of public support we receive,” Evans added.  “The opioid crisis is bigger than one agency and it’s going to take everyone working together to find a solution.”

“Prescription opioid abuse is a real-life problem in West Virginia and this DEA initiative has been highly successful with getting unused medications out of our communities,” said Bill Powell, United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.  “I thank them for their efforts.”

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove opioids and other medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens.

DEA began putting on Take Back Day events when the public had no other way to appropriately dispose of their leftover painkillers and other potentially dangerous drugs. These events have been extremely successful not only in getting unused drugs out of the house, but also in raising awareness of their link to addiction and overdose deaths. Since DEA launched this program nine years ago, doctors are prescribing fewer painkillers, and law enforcement agencies, pharmacies and others have installed permanent prescription drug drop boxes on-site, making drug disposal even more convenient.

Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications.

Complete results for DEA’s fall Take Back Day are available at https://takebackday.dea.gov/#initiative-results. DEA’s next Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 27, 2019.

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