Many people apparently took advantage of last weekend’s “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” to do a little fall cleaning in their medicine cabinets.
The Director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy Steve Lukan is pleased with the results at the 80 collection sites around the state. “Over six-thousand pounds were taken back and that’s one of the high-water marks for us here in Iowa, but also one of the larger I think across the whole country,” Lukan says. The 6,194-pounds of prescription drugs dropped off was the second highest total for such collections in the state. Lukan doesn’t have a breakdown on the types of drugs turned in, as the program allows people to drop them off anonymously.
The drugs are then disposed of by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “The contents of these containers are usually sealed and are not reopened until they are disposed of at the DEA approved site,” Lukan explains. “Nobody really puts hands on them so to speak.”
The program doesn’t just help people clear up space in their counters and on their cabinets, it also helps keep the prescription drugs out of the hands of people who might misuse them. “We know a big percentage of people — especially young people — actually get these drugs out of the medicine cabinets of friends and family, especially when they are first experimenting. So, taking these out of the supply chain has a very big impact on that problem,” according to Lukan.
The national program began in 2010 and is held twice a year. Lukan says if you missed this one and have some unused prescription drugs, there are options to properly dispose of them. “There are some law enforcement agencies that will have a drop off box, and some pharmacies are working to help accommodate this as well,” Lukan says.
He says its’ important to take them to a drop off site, don’t throw them away or flush them down the toilet. “If you have some that you would like to safely dispose of, contact your local law enforcement or contact your local pharmacist,” Lukan says. The state says 34,282 pounds, or more than 17 tons-of old or unused medicines have dropped off in the last three years of the program.
Nationally DEA says 324 tons of obsolete medicines were collected, bringing the total amount gathered in the U.S. since the program’s inception to 1,715 tons.