Calling prescription drug addiction an “urgent and growing threat” to our nation’s public health, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulation on September 8 that would allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and other authorized collectors to serve as authorized drop-off sites for unused prescription drugs. Under the new policy, long-term care facilities will also be able to collect controlled substances turned in by residents of those facilities, and prescription drug users everywhere will have permission to directly mail in their unused medications to authorized collectors.
Attorney General Holder said the new changes will help save lives and protect American families from the increased dangers of prescriptions drug misuse. In 2011 alone, more than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States involved prescription drugs, and hazardous opioid pain relievers led to about 17,000 of those deaths. Young people are especially susceptible to these dangers. The attorney general noted that nearly four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug have obtained it from their parents’ medicine cabinet.
“These shocking statistics illustrate that prescription drug addiction and abuse represent nothing less than a public health crisis,” the attorney general said in a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. “Every day, this crisis touches – and devastates – the lives of Americans from every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life.”
The new policy builds on existing take-back programs launched by the DEA. A recent take-back event coordinated by the DEA last April resulted in the safe return of 390 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 6,100 sites. Over the last four years alone, the DEA and other partnering organizations have taken in over 4.1 million pounds—or more than 2,100 tons—of prescription pills. The DEA’s next take-back event will be on Saturday, September 27.
In the video message, the attorney general described the new policy as evidence of the department’s commitment to ending the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse that has already taken too many lives and hurt too many American families.
For more information, please visit the DEA’s website.