WEST DES MOINES — Iowans are being urged to dispose of their leftover prescription medications as well as unwanted electronic vaping and smoking paraphernalia at “Take-Back” locations in all of Iowa’s 99 counties on Saturday.
“Prescription drug abuse is something that often starts at home,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds, who was joined at her weekly news conference Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Dale Woolery, director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, and West Des Moines Police Chief Chris Scott to highlight National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Over half of those who misuse or abuse prescription medications say they got the drugs from family or friends, often right out of the medicine cabinet,” the governor told reporters gathered at the West Des Moines Police Department. “Misuse and abuse are often the first steps toward addiction and overdose. That’s why Prescription Drug Take Back programs are so important.”
The annual event is an opportunity for consumers to dispose of unneeded and expired prescription drugs, Woolery said, noting hundreds of collection sites are available across the state to accept leftover or unused prescription drugs, including controlled substances, for safe and legal disposal.
In addition, more than 306 local law enforcement centers and community pharmacies have permanent Take Back collection boxes, and the number of sites is growing.
“This is a big deal,” Scott said.
Officials with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency say the agency has collected and disposed of 5,908.2 tons (11.8 million pounds) of the prescription medications during 17 national “take-back” days since 2010. The event is a partnership of several state agencies, local law enforcement, businesses and community organizations.
Iowa ranked 16th in the highest per-capita participation rate last year, the governor noted.
“Prescription Drug Take Back is a force multiplier that empowers thousands of Iowans to help one another, by properly disposing of leftover medication,” Woolery said. “Iowans participating in Take Back make a big difference, contributing to the safe removal and destruction of several tons of potentially harmful drugs every year.”
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For the first time this year, the collection sites will accept electronic vaping and smoking devices that have had their batteries removed. The addition intends to ease a public-health concern over the 41 vaping-related illnesses reported in Iowa this year.
It also aims to address the opioid crisis. Officials at Wednesday’s event said that while the 137 lives lost to opioid-related overdose deaths last year is double the number from 20 years ago, they believe progress is being made.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported a 33 percent drop in the past year. Additionally, roughly a quarter of a billion doses of controlled prescription drugs were dispensed in Iowa last year, the lowest level in six years.
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans reported misusing controlled prescription drugs.
Items that should be accepted at most Saturday drop-off sites include prescription medications, patches, ointments, medication for pets and over-the-counter drugs. Pills should be removed from their original containers and put in clear, sealed plastic bags.
Syringes and inhalers/aerosols are not accepted at drop-off sites.
Locations of permanent drug Take Back sites can be found at odcp.iowa.gov/rxtakebacks.
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