January 21, 2019

Tons of unwanted drugs collected on Take Back Day

Vermonters turned in more than three tons of unused, unwanted and expired medication at nearly 70 collection sites across the state on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28, according to the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

“As we continue to combat our opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement initiatives, removing unused opioid medications from distribution is incredibly important and a key prevention strategy,” Gov. Phil Scott said in a press release. “I want to thank Vermonters for their continued help in getting Vermont’s most dangerous leftovers off the street, as well as the Vermont departments of health and public safety, and local law enforcement, for their work to collect and safely dispose of these unused medications.”

Take Back Day is organized in partnership with the health department, local and state law enforcement and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It helps ensure prescription drugs that people are no longer using don’t wind up being misused.

The DEA estimates that about 10 percent of the medications collected on Prescription Drug Take Back Day are opioids.

“The start of drug misuse is often a matter of opportunity,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine. “We know that people who abuse prescription painkillers can readily get them from friends or family — often straight out of the medicine cabinet. The fact that literally tons of drugs were collected makes it clear that Take Back Days and our permanent drop-off sites around the state make a difference in keeping drugs out of the wrong hands, and (making sure they) are disposed of in a way that won’t pollute our waterways or injure wildlife.”

The collected medication is securely transported out of state and incinerated.

The Health Department also coordinates a system of permanent prescription drug disposal sites at pharmacies and police stations where disposal boxes or kiosks are available. To find a disposal site, visit healthvermont.gov/drugtakeback or dial 2-1-1.

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