Elected Officials Encourage Public to Rid Medicine Cabinets of Powerful Gateway Drugs on April 26


BOSTON, MA – As communities across the Commonwealth continue to battle a rash of heroin overdoses, the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation joined Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Patrick Administration at Boston City Hall today and urged citizens to participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day (“Take-Back Day”) on April 26, 2014. Take-Back Day is a national initiative aimed at encouraging the public to dispose of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs that are prone to abuse and theft.


This year’s Take-Back Day will be held on Saturday, April 26 from 10AM to 2PM. During this time, members of the public can drop off unwanted prescription drugs at sites sponsored by local law enforcement and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For a list of Take-Back Day sites in your area, please click here.


Boston residents can currently dispose of unused or expired medication safely, easily, confidentially, and for free in a MedReturn Drug Collection Kiosk at eleven Boston Police Department Stations. The kiosks are open to all residents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week -- no questions asked. This permanent disposal system is a collaboration between the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Police Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. The MedReturn Drug Collection Kiosks were purchased by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. For full information, including a map of disposal locations, please click here


"I don’t want to get another call from a mother or a father who is in fear of losing their child, because of a habit that began with pills from a neighbor’s medicine cabinet," said Mayor Walsh. "Substance abuse requires comprehensive approaches that include prevention, intervention, and treatment. But if we can get these unneeded drugs out of our neighborhoods, we will be taking a step in the right direction."


"It is time for renewed action to end the opiates epidemic that has swept through too many of our communities," said Governor Deval Patrick. "In addition to the steps we are taking at the state level under the public health emergency declaration, National Prescription Take-Back Day will encourage residents to rid their homes of unnecessary prescription drugs. I thank Mayor Walsh and the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation for their leadership on this effort in Massachusetts."


In March, Governor Patrick declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic. The declaration allowed the Department of Public Health (DPH) to (1) make Naloxone (Narcan) more widely available to first responders and bystanders, (2) mandate prescription monitoring by physicians and pharmacies, (3) prohibit the prescribing and dispensing of any hydrocodone-only medication (Zohydro), and (4) retask the Commonwealth’s Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention to study long-term solutions to combat this epidemic. 


"Prescription drug abuse is affecting far too many families and communities across the Commonwealth," said Senator Elizabeth Warren. "The problem is urgent, destroying lives and breaking up families, and it will take everyone working together to combat this epidemic. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is one way Massachusetts families can take action at home to stop this abuse and save lives."


"Emptying our medicine cabinets of old and unused prescription drugs is one simple thing we can all do to help rid our communities of the devastating epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse. We must take action now to do whatever we can to immediately confront this public health crisis and reduce its tragic effects," said Senator Ed Markey.


"All of us have a part to play in solving this problem. It won't go away on its own," said Congressman Jim McGovern.


"Far too often, opiate and heroin addictions begin at home through access to prescription drugs obtained from family and friends or even in one's own medicine cabinet.  This take-back program is an important first step toward limiting the amount of unneeded prescriptions that are available for misuse and abuse and toward stemming this public health crisis that has taken a heavy toll on our communities," said Congressman John Tierney.


"Safely disposing of old or unused prescription drugs in our own homes is one small step we can all take to limit the availability of drugs in our communities. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to clean out their own medicine cabinets," said Congressman Mike Capuano.


"We have seen evidence that prescription drug abuse can lead to severe addiction problems that involve powerful illicit narcotics such as heroin. Removing the latent prescription drug risk from American homes seems like a good place to start,” said Congressman Stephen Lynch.


"Community safety begins at home. Prescription drug take-back programs give us all an opportunity to help keep drugs off the streets. Partnerships at all levels of government and law enforcement make programs like this a success, and I encourage citizens to join the effort on April 26 to curb the epidemic of addiction," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.


"Safely and properly removing unused prescription medications is an important step towards curbing drug addiction," said Congressman Bill Keating. "Abuse of opioid-based painkillers is one of the most common ways a person eventually tries and becomes addicted to heroin. As Norfolk County District Attorney, I saw far too many families ripped apart by this vicious cycle. I encourage anyone who has unused drugs in their homes to dispose of them at one of the approved Take-Back sites."


"The heroin and opiate addictions we have seen wreak havoc on too many Massachusetts communities often originate in the most unassuming of places: the family medicine cabinet," said Congressman Joe Kennedy. “Proactively ridding our homes of unused or unwanted prescription drugs are a small step concerned community members can take to help stem the tide of abuse cities and towns across our country are fighting today."


“As a mother of three boys, I feel it is our responsibility to our children to make sure we remove unused prescription drugs from our homes,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark. “A majority of children report that it is easy to get drugs out of their parents’ medicine cabinet, and this is often the first step to addiction.  This epidemic affects all of our communities and participating in the National Take Back Initiative is something all of us can do to help keep our kids safe.”  


Prescription drugs left unattended or forgotten in family medicine cabinets are one of the most accessible gateways to opiate and heroin abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.


Last October, Americans turned in 324 tons (over 647,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at over 4,114 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners.  When those results are combined with what was collected during previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 3.4 million pounds—more than 1,700 tons—of pills.


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