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Record 456 tons of unused pills collected in one day

By
Allen Cone
Pharmacies and police stations collected a record 456 tons of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 28, including the opioid pain medication hydrocodone (above). Photo courtesy of Drug Enforcement Administration
Pharmacies and police stations collected a record 456 tons of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 28, including the opioid pain medication hydrocodone (above). Photo courtesy of Drug Enforcement Administration

Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Pharmacies and police stations nationwide collected a record 456 tons of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs in a specially designated day last month.

During the 14th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Oct. 28, the 912,305 pounds were turned in to 5,300 affiliated collection sites, the Drug Enforcement Agency said in a release.

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The haul, which included heroin, opioids fentanyl and oxycodone and other prescription drugs, is almost six tons more than was collected at last spring's event.

Since fall 2010, when the event began, DEA has collected 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons, of prescription drugs.

Last month, President Donald Trump declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioid crisis.

"In the midst of the worst drug crisis in American history, drug abuse prevention has never been more important," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "And at the Department of Justice, it's what we do every day. By taking dangerous drugs off of our streets, we keep addiction from spreading. One of the most important ways we do that is through the DEA's semi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back Days."

The DEA, which is part of the Department of Justice, set up 115 collection sites on tribal lands for the first time in the semiannual event. In all, there were 4,274 law enforcement partners.

The state with the post drugs collected was California with 70,260 pounds -- followed by 67,273 in Texas, 60,257 in Wisconsin, 44,081 in Illinois, 42,850 in New York and 41,700 in Maine.

"At a time like this, this event is having more of an impact than ever," Sessions said. "I want to thank all of our local law enforcement partners who helped at all 5,300 collection sites to make this possible-and everyone who participated. They're helping us end this crisis one pill at a time."

The DEA's Drug Take Back website gives information on safely disposing of drugs, including locations.

The next Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 28.

"More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance," DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson said. "The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation's opioid epidemic, which has led to the highest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen.This is a crisis that must be addressed from multiple angles. Educating the public and removing these medications from households across the Unites States prevents misuse where it often starts."

In 2016, there were 64,000 drug overdose deaths, which marks a 18.8 increase from the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those deaths, 14,453 were linked to natural and semi-synthetic opioids, 32,820 relating to synthetic opioids excluding methadone, 15,487 from heroin, 3,250 from metadone, 11,299 from cocaine and 8,030 from psychostimulants with abuse potential.

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