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D.E.A will Allow Pharmacies to Take Back Unused Pills

Update Date: Sep 10, 2014 09:29 AM EDT

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced this past Monday that it will allow pharmacies, hospitals and other centers to take back unused prescription pills. The decision was made in an effort to reduce the rates of prescription drug abuse.

The new regulation was created so that adolescents and young adults who live in households with leftover drugs do not have access to them. Instead of having these bottles sitting in the medicine cabinet, people can bring in any of their leftover drugs to any of the approved locations within their community. People will also have the option to mail in their bottles if they do not have the time to drop them off. The pharmacies, as well as other locations such as libraries and senior centers, will carry package-bags that people can use to send their drugs to an authorized collector.

"This is big news and long overdue," said Dr. G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported by the New York Times. "It's baffling that it's so easy to get a prescription for opioids and yet so difficult to dispose of these drugs safely."

Carmen A. Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, added, "The sooner we get those unused medications out of the home and medicine cabinets, the better and safer it is for everyone."

Although pharmacies will take all kinds of drugs back, the DEA hopes that easily-abused drugs, such as opioid painkillers and stimulants and depressants, are returned. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 110 Americans died every day in 2011 due to drug overdoses. During that year, more than 50 percent of unintentional drug overdose deaths were tied to prescription drugs.

Attorney General Eric Holder, stated according to USA Today, "Shocking statistics illustrate that prescription drug addiction and abuse represent nothing less than a public health crisis. And every day, this crisis touches and devastates the lives of Americans from every state, in every region and from every background and walk of life.''

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