The spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy says Iowans brought in more than four tons of unused drugs during the September 27th “Drug Take Back Day.” Dale Woolery says 80 locations in the state collected the prescription drugs. “A lot of that the controlled medications, which means they have the potential for abuse,” Woolery says. “So to get those out of medicine cabinets and out of homes and safely disposed of — it’s true public safety. You have to wonder, if not for the take back program and efforts like it, where would those pills be?”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration oversaw the disposal of the drugs. “Those medications, because they contain controlled prescription drugs are incinerated at an EPA approved facility,” Woolery explains. The Take Back days have yielded a total of more than 25 tons of prescription drugs in the four years they’ve been held in Iowa.

Woolery says the September program was the last of the Take Backs to be overseen by the DEA as he says the program will evolve into something else that will be determined after the DEA passed rules, that in theory, are designed to make it easier and safer to dispose of the prescription drugs.

He says there could several ways to get rid of unneeded drugs with the new plan. “Taking medications back to pharmacies or mailing them back, but the Iowa Pharmacy Board still needs to review the federal law. And even though the federal law has changed, it would still be voluntary, so for others to participate and to make the take back opportunities more accessible will require the involvement of others,” according to Woolery.

Until the new systems is approved, there are still places where you can get rid of the pills you don’t need. He says some local law enforcement agencies have permanent collection boxes and there are pharmacies that are taking back unused nonprescriptive drugs. Woolery advises you to do some checking with your local police department or pharmacy to see if there is a take back opportunity in your community. He says if you have no take back options you can mix old unidentifiable medicines with used coffee grounds or kitty litter to toss in the weekly trash.

The DEA reported more than 52,000 pounds of prescription drugs were brought into collection areas in the six-state Midwest division that includes Iowa during the September event.