The National Take Back Initiative has proven its weight in gold. Actually it has proven its weight by approximately 1020 tons throughout their past five events nationwide.
“We know from drug use surveys that prescription drug abuse is the second largest category of drug abuse in the United States, second only to marijuana,” explains Scott Collier, Division Program Manager, St. Louis Division for the DEA. “There are more abusers of prescription drugs than there are abusers of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and LSD combined.”
Collier went to explain how the DEA knows, from those same surveys, particularly of teenagers, that one of the major sources of supply is the medicine chest. According to him, it’s the unwanted, unused leftovers that many in the U.S. just don’t think about.
“Kids are getting a hold of them and sharing them amongst their friends and so on and so on,” said Collier. “So in an effort to reduce that supply from spreading even worse, we decided it would be a good thing to get involved in local projects disposing these drugs, because quite frankly there were a large number of police departments already doing this on their own.”
In talking to those departments, Collier explains that one of the biggest draw backs to doing these programs is the disposing of the medications, because they collect such a large volume, the challenge then becomes getting rid of it.
“The best way to do this is incineration,” said Collier. “However, that is not cheap, which made it even more difficult for areas, especially rural areas to do these kinds of programs.”
It was for this reason the DEA decided to play a role and sponsor two events every year, where they basically organize the local Sheriff’s departments and police departments, around an event day, where the DEA will supply all the materials to them, cover the logistics and cost for disposal.
“This allows us to not only do this in mass but also use it to help raise awareness of the prescription drug abuse issue,” said Collier. “And that really is the whole backdrop to the program, awareness.”
According to Collier, this program is not just for the rural areas of America but for any community, no matter its size, that would like to get involved. Their first year there was 2,992 participants and 4,086 sites. That number has grown to approximately 3,899 participants and 5,263 sites; 446 of those being in Missouri.
“There really is no mechanism for consumers or patients to dispose of these medications once they’re done with them. I mean other than simply throwing them in the trash,” explains Collier. “Pharmacies can’t take them back because when the law was written in 1972, nobody anticipated that people would have left over medications. It follows distribution and once it gets to the patient, that’s it, it can’t go anywhere else.”
Based on the law Collier mentioned, it is unlawful for any person to transfer their prescription medication to anyone else and until the DEA of the powers that be can change those rules, these kinds of programs are needed. However, Collier said there is a current proposal in the works that would help further eliminate unused prescription pills from getting into the wrong hands.
According to the Office of Diversion Control, This rule proposes requirements to govern the secure disposal of controlled substances by both DEA registrants and ultimate users. These regulations would implement the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-273) by expanding the options available to collect controlled substances from ultimate users for purposes of disposal to include: Take-back events, mail-back programs, and collection receptacle locations. These proposed regulations contain specific language to continue to allow law enforcement agencies to voluntarily conduct take-back events, administer mail-back programs, and maintain collection receptacles. These regulations propose to allow authorized manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, and retail pharmacies to voluntarily administer mail-back programs and maintain collection receptacles. In addition, this proposed rule expands the authority of authorized retail pharmacies to voluntarily maintain collection receptacles at long term care facilities. This proposed rule also reorganizes and consolidates existing regulations on disposal, including the role of reverse distributors.
“We wanted to provide an outlet, at least on a somewhat regular basis, for people to have this opportunity twice a year,” said Collier.
Drop off locations for Elsberry are at the Elsberry Pharmacy located at 106 Broadway St and will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information contact the Elsberry Pharmacy at 573–898-2091, the Elsberry Police Department at 573-898-5456 or visit http://dea.gov.
“Again we want to raise awareness and make sure that unused and unwanted prescription pills are off out streets and away from our kids,” said Collier.
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