East Hawaii News

Prescription Drug “Take-Back Initiative” Scheduled

April 11, 2016, 12:54 PM HST
* Updated April 11, 2:20 PM
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DEA file photo.

DEA file photo.

A free and anonymous, no questions asked “Take-Back Initiative” for prescription drugs will take place across the state in late April.

The Department of the Attorney General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Narcotics Enforcement Division, and the Department of Public Safety have once again partnered for the 11th annual national initiative on Saturday, April 30.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ka Waena Lapa’au Medical Complex in Hilo and at the Hawai’i Police Department Kona Station, unused prescription medications, including tablets, capsules, and other solid dosage forms of medication will be collected. New and used needles and syringes will not be accepted.

“Tossing pills into the trash can be dangerous. The take-backs are a great way to safely dispose of prescription drugs without harming others or the environment,” said Attorney General Douglas Chin.

In the five year span between 2010 and 2015, almost 20,000 pounds of drugs were safely collected in Hawai’i over the course of ten take-back events.

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Across the country, 5,525,021 pounds of drugs have been collected.

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Unused or expired medicine should be disposed of properly when it is no longer needed for the illness for which it was prescribed.

“The DEA National Prescription Take-Back events continue to receive overwhelming participation from our communities,” said Howard Shu, Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge. “DEA is excited to partner with our state and local counterparts in the 11th National Take-Back Initiative. This is another great opportunity for everyone to dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired prescription drugs.”

Medicines may lose their effectiveness after the expiration date, and improper use of prescription drugs can be as dangerous as illegal drug use.

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In addition, having unused and expired medicine in your home increases the risk of accidental poisoning. Homes where children or the elderly live are especially vulnerable. It’s possible that people may mistake one type of medicine for another type. Children may mistake medicine for candy.

“The DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back events are great opportunities for anyone to dispose of unwanted prescription medication in a safe, environmentally appropriate, and accountable manner. Abuse and diversion of prescribed medication continues to rise around our state and country. Simply discarding it in the trash may cause harm to our environment. All of us have the responsibility to keep our beautiful state safe for generations to come,” said Derek Nakamura, Acting Administrator of the State Department of Public Safety’s Narcotics Enforcement Division. “We encourage you – our community – to join your law enforcement partners by bringing your medication to any of the collection points that will be available statewide.”

Unused or expired medicine should not be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet.

Proper disposal helps reduce the risk of prescription drugs entering a human water supply or potentially harming aquatic life.

According to the DEA, thousands of Americans in communities across the country discarded more than 350 tons of unused, expired, or unwanted drugs as part of the last take-back held in the fall of 2015.

“The numbers are shocking – approximately 46,000 Americans die each year from drug-related deaths. More than half of those are from heroin and prescription opioids,” said Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “With four out of five new heroin users starting with prescription medications, I know our take-back program makes a real difference.”

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