Gov. Wolf: Help Fight the Opioid Crisis with Participation in Drug Take-Back Day

April 26, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf is encouraging Pennsylvanians to participate in the fight against the opioid crisis and misuse of prescription drugs by participating in the 17th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day tomorrow.

“We can all do our part in fighting the opioid crisis and misuse of prescription drugs by disposing of old, unneeded or expired prescriptions,” Gov. Wolf said. “Anyone needing to dispose of prescription medications can safely dispose of the drugs at one of more than 800 drug take-back boxes around the commonwealth any day, but I encourage participation tomorrow for the national take-back day event.”

Leftover opioids and other prescription drugs can be sold or misused by family members, stolen, or otherwise end up in the wrong hands and the Wolf Administration has made making safe disposal of prescription drugs a priority in its fight against the opioid crisis.

Last year, Gov. Wolf signed legislation giving hospice staff the authority to properly destroy unused drugs following a patient’s death. Previously, hospice staff had to return any unused pharmaceuticals to the family. This process can, and had in some cases, been abused with undesirable outcomes. It also placed another burden on grieving families as they had to seek out a legal collection mechanism in their community.

“By simplifying the process for disposing of unused medications following a death, we are taking another step toward taking dangerous medications out of the hands of anyone who might misuse them,” Gov. Wolf. said. “Take-back boxes offer another option in preventing misuse of dangerous medications.

“While the take-back program has been, and will continue to be, incredibly successful, we all know that we must do more to rid our communities of the scourge of the opioid and heroin crisis. That’s why, from the beginning, my administration has taken proactive action to get in front of this crisis, and to give our communities the tools they need to fight back.”

Governor Wolf first signed a 90-day opioid epidemic disaster declaration in 2018, and the sixth renewal on March 20, so Pennsylvania could put the resources and expertise together to make a concerted effort to battle the epidemic. Today, there are 17 state agencies and many organizations partnering to fight the epidemic from all fronts.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days are held twice annually by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and state and local partners to encourage people to take an active role in making their homes and communities safe and lowering the risk of prescription drug misuse. Since the inception of Pennsylvania’s drug take-back program in 2014, there has been more than 537,000 pounds of prescription medication destroyed, with more than 800 take-back boxes established in all 67 counties throughout the commonwealth.

During its 16th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in October 2018, the DEA and more than 4,800 law enforcement agencies participated, with more than 5,800 sites collecting more than 900,000 pounds of unused medication.

“With the opioid epidemic impacting every Pennsylvanian in some way, properly disposing of unused or unwanted prescription medication is a small act that has a big impact on our efforts in battling this crisis,” said Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith. “By participating in National Drug Take-Back Day, Pennsylvanians can do their part to make their homes and communities safer by properly disposing of medication.”

“National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is an opportunity to get rid of unused prescription drugs safely and securely,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Prescription drug misuse and abuse play a large role in the opioid crisis, but you can help change that. There are a number of locations across Pennsylvania where unused prescription drugs can be dropped off, with no questions asked.”

Prescription drug take-back boxes can be found in Pennsylvania State Police barracks, local police stations and municipal buildings, and pharmacies around Pennsylvania. A map of take-back box locations searchable by county and zip code can be found on the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs’ website here.

For more information on the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania, visit www.pa.gov/opioids.

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