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Bring us your unused prescription drugs, DEA says

By the CNN Wire Staff
Medicines in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, the DEA says.
Medicines in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, the DEA says.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Drug Enforcement Agency launches National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
  • It aims to get rid of drugs safely and prevent pill abuse and theft
  • Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem
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Washington (CNN) -- The Drug Enforcement Agency wants people around the country to raid their medicine cabinets this week and get rid of any old or unused prescriptions that may still be lying around.

But instead of throwing them in the toilet or trash can, the DEA wants people to bring them to one of more than 3,400 sites this Saturday for safe disposal.

It's part of a campaign called National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aimed at preventing increased pill abuse and theft.

"The National Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign will provide a safe way for Americans to dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs," DEA Acting Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a statement. "This effort symbolizes DEA's commitment to halting the disturbing rise in addiction caused by their misuse and abuse."

Medicines in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, the DEA says, adding that studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family, friends, and the home medicine cabinet.

Many Americans also don't know how to dispose of their unused medicine away, the DEA says. Flushing it down the toilet and throwing it away are both potential safety and health hazards, it says.

"Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem, and take-back events like this one are an indispensable tool for reducing the threat that the diversion and abuse of these drugs pose to public health," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "The federal, state, and local collaboration represented in this initiative is key in our national efforts to reduce pharmaceutical drug diversion and abuse."

The Take-Back Day event, which is free, takes place Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. People who want to get rid of their prescription medicines can log onto the DEA website to find their local drop-off sites.