Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator, announced that National Prescription Take Back Day will be held on Saturday, September 29th, from 10: A.M. until 2:00 P.M. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. This is a nation-wide initiative sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reduce medication misuse and abuse though the safe and proper disposal of unwanted and unused prescription drugs. He said, “This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.”
Regenye added, “Last April, citizens turned in 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal at the 5,659 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories. When the DEA totaled the four National Prescription Take Back Days over the past two years, nationwide; state, local and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 1.5 million pounds (774 tons) of medication from circulation.
There are many problems with misuse of medications, including improper disposal, which includes throwing prescription drugs in the garbage or flushing them down the toilet, both of which have the potential for safety and health issues. Take-back programs offer the public opportunities to dispose of drugs properly – ‘If you do not use them, get rid of them.’
For those keeping medications for "just in case" situations, that may not be safe either. Anything that has outlasted its expiration date needs to disposed of properly. If something is not being used any longer and it sits in the medicine cabinet and becomes expired, it may no longer be effective or safe.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is also an opportunity to drop off medications of family members who have passed away and the various locations have a no-questions-asked policy.
Some pertinent facts highlighting the public health impact of prescription drug abuse in the United States are:
· Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990 and are at a historical high. Currently, one hundred people die from drug overdoses every day in the United States.
· In 2009, more than 37,000 people died from drug overdoses, and the majority of these deaths involved prescription drugs. In fact, prescription painkillers were involved in more than 15,500 deaths in 2009, more than cocaine and heroin combined.
· Enough prescription painkillers were sold in 2010 to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month.
· The rise in prescription painkiller overdose deaths in the U.S. parallels a four-fold increase since 1999 in the sale of prescription painkillers – also known as opioid pain relievers.
· Nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses involve a prescription painkiller.
A list of sites will be listed on the Ocean County Health Department website at www.ochd.org. or you can call your local police department.