Health & Medicine

15 tons, what do you get? The amount of expired prescription drugs disposed of in one day in Northern California

Last year, some 64,000 people died of drug overdoses, most of them involving some type of opioid. That’s more than the total number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War.
Last year, some 64,000 people died of drug overdoses, most of them involving some type of opioid. That’s more than the total number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War. TNS

The Drug Enforcement Administration tallied the amount of prescription drugs collected Oct. 28 during the DEA’s Take Back event nationwide – and measured its haul in tons.

Americans nationwide brought the DEA and its more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 912,305 pounds – 456 tons – of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites, according to a DEA news release.

The DEA’s biannual Take Back events aim to reduce substance abuse and addiction by getting unused or unwanted prescriptions out of medicine cabinets. Overdose deaths from prescriptions such as opioid pain killers are at a 15-year high in California.

The Sacramento Bee reported in September that there were 1,925 opioid-linked overdose deaths in California last year, according to recently updated state data, and thousands of emergency room visits.

DEA’s San Francisco Division, which covers Northern California, collected 31,064 pounds or 15.5 tons of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at its more than 150 collection sites, according to the DEA.

“More people start down the path of addiction through the misuse of opioid prescription drugs than any other substance. The abuse of these prescription drugs has fueled the nation’s opioid epidemic, which has led to the highest rate of overdose deaths this country has ever seen,” said DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson in a statement. “This is a crisis that must be addressed from multiple angles. Educating the public and removing these medications from households across the Unites States prevents misuse where it often starts.”

Anthony Sorci: 916-321-1051.

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