The numbers are in from the program on September 29th that allowed people to bring in unused prescription medications. Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy spokesman, Dale Woolery, says over 40 collection sites were open to take the pills.
“Basically getting rid of over 4,000 pounds or two tons of unused controlled prescription drugs. And that’s great news because there are a lot of old or unused prescription drugs in circulation, and it’s great that we can safely get them out of medicine cabinets in homes where they’re not being used and into the hands of proper authorities,” Woolery says.
The U-S Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored this program, and the D.E.A. says 244 tons of prescription drugs were brought in nationwide. Woolery says they know information about some drugs from 2011, but there isn’t an exact count on how many unused prescription drugs there are in Iowa.
“There were over 72-million doses of hydrocodone alone, it was the most prescribed controlled substance in Iowa. And so if you add that with a lot of others, there are quite a few meds, quite a few pills and other medications out there,” Woolery says. “And the other thing we know — according to a national study — about 70% of all the prescription medications that are illegally diverted and abused come from friends and family, which means a lot of those are coming out of medicine cabinets.”
He says collecting the drugs is much safer for people and the environment than simply flushing them down the toilet. Woolery says the number of opportunities to take unused drugs back has increased over the past several years, and the process itself could see changes in the future.
“It’s not a formal process right now, the only formality is that by law, law enforcement where there are controlled substances need to be involved. And that’s the kind of thing that in the future may change, depending on what the D.E.A. comes out with in rules in the months ahead,” according to Woolery.
Right now it is up to local agencies to decided if they want to offer take back opportunities. Woolery says if you still have unused prescription drugs to take back, you can do so through some 440 pharmacies statewide that participate in the Iowa Pharmacy Association’s TakeAway program.
To find a participating pharmacy, or get more information about this program, go to: www.iarx.org/takeaway .