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DEA raises awareness on medicine disposal

The US Drug Enforcement Administration is spearheading a new awareness campaign to encourage the safe disposal of medicines

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is spearheading a new awareness campaign to encourage the safe disposal of unused prescription and non-prescription medicines in an effort to make sure that controlled substances do not end up being diverted or misused.

The centerpiece of the effort is a daylong, nationwide event that is being coordinated with state and local law officials to allow consumers to drop off their unused or expired medicines at various sites for destruction. The service is free and anonymous "with no questions asked". Consumers can locate a drop-off station online at www.dea.gov.

"These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety," the DEA said in announcing the programme. The federal agency said the one-day collection programme is meant "to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse".

The majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, the DEA noted.

Participants in the collection and awareness initiative include the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Partnership for a Drug-Free America; the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Association of Attorneys General; the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy; the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National District Attorneys Association.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has also been active in addressing the issue of safe medication disposal, recently launching its own awareness campaign called Smart Rx Disposal, which is a partnership with the American Pharmacists Association and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The PhRMA campaign encourages consumers to dispose of unused medications in the trash rather than by flushing them, which can contaminate the water supply. The effort also offers safety tips to ensure that children and pets do not retrieve the drugs from the trash.

21st September 2010

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