More unused prescription med drop boxes coming to Iowa, in effort to curb opioid abuse

New kiosks intended to combat opioid epidemic

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DES MOINES — State officials said Monday they hope to have drop boxes in all 99 counties by next year where Iowans can properly dispose of left-over prescription medicines as a way to combat problems associated with the misuse of highly addictive opioid drugs.

Saturday is the 12th biannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Iowa will have more than 100 sites in dozens of communities to collect unneeded medications from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at designated sites with no questions asked, said Steve Lukan, the state’s drug control policy director. Over the previous 11 National Prescription Drug Take Back Saturdays, a total of 34 tons of unused medicine was collected in Iowa, he said.

"This is a real public safety and public health issue," said Lukan. "Our initial goal is to improve Iowans’ access statewide to safe prescription drug Take Back options, by ensuring each county has at least one permanent collection site by January. We will also focus on areas of greatest need.”

The state recently expanded the number of permanent prescription drug Take Back collection sites to 94 in 57 counties and Lukan joined Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds at their weekly news conference to announce plans to further expand the kiosks to nearly 200 with one in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

The addition of up to 100 more permanent Take Back kiosks at community pharmacies and local law enforcement centers statewide where secure, user-friendly medicine disposal sites will be more accessible throughout the year is part of an effort to deal with an opioid epidemic, Branstad said.

“The misuse of medicines is one of the fastest growing and most problematic challenges that we face in American and in Iowa,” the governor said.

 “Most abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, which means Iowans who properly dispose of unused medicines at Take Back sites can prevent the diversion and abuse of those drugs, and potentially save lives,” he added. “Take Back is also good for the environment, because fewer medicines are flushed to contaminate water supplies.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has declared a national opioid epidemic, reporting at least half of the 78 U.S. opioid overdose deaths each day involve a prescription opioid, or pain reliever, not counting other prescription drugs. Branstad said Iowa’s Department of Public Health reported 23 Iowans died from prescription opioid overdose deaths in 2015 -- the largest single category of drug-related overdose deaths in the State.

Reynold said Iowans disposed of nearly 38 pounds of leftover prescription drugs every minute during last spring’s one-day Take Back events. “With more than 300 million doses of controlled prescription drugs alone being dispensed each year in Iowa the Take Back program is growing in importance,” she noted.

Information on Saturday Take Back sites, a map of Iowa’s permanent Take Back locations, plus other drug prevention materials are available at

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