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Wolf Administration Visits Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Encourages Participation in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

10/20/2021

Harrisburg, PAToday, the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Department of Aging, and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs' (DMVA) Counterdrug Joint Task Force (CJTF) joined officials from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to encourage Pennsylvanians to take part in the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day initiative this Saturday, October 23.

Since the inception of Pennsylvania's drug take-back program in 2015, more than 942,491 pounds of prescription medication have been destroyed across more than 880 take-back boxes in all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

"We encourage all Pennsylvanians to clean out their medicine cabinets and participate in this critically important day to help combat prescription drug misuse," said DDAP Secretary Jen Smith. "By safely eliminating prescription drugs from our homes, we are each doing our part to keep our communities and loved ones safe. If you are unable to participate on Saturday, remember there are drug take-back boxes throughout the commonwealth that can be used year-round."

"National Prescription Drug Take Back events play a key role in collecting unwanted and expired medications, as well as used needles and syringes," said Deborah Berini, president of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "By doing so, we're keeping them out of the hands of children and others who could accidentally – or intentionally – harm themselves."

The CJTF is operated by the Pennsylvania National Guard (PNG) and is responsible, along with narcotics agents from the Attorney General's office, for collecting and weighing discarded prescription drugs through Pennsylvania's drug take-back program. In addition, the CJTF provides Counterdrug support to federal, state, local law enforcement agencies, community-based organizations, and educational and government organizations that request assistance at no-cost to the agency supported. The PNG is part of the DMVA's dual mission, which also includes supporting Pennsylvania's nearly 800,000 veterans.

"The rise of prescription drug opioid use and deaths throughout the commonwealth, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, has made it imperative to have collaborative community programs like the Prescription Drug Take-Back Day," said LTC Max Furman Jr., coordinator of the PA Counterdrug Joint Task Force and commandant of the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center. "The Pennsylvania National Guard is proud to play a role by providing assistance with transporting and disposing of the drugs in the take-back boxes. This directly supports the commonwealth's mission to improve the safety and welfare of Pennsylvanians."

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 90% of adults 65 and older report they are currently taking prescription medicine and older adults are also more likely to be taking multiple prescription medications. This can lead to a higher rate of exposure to potentially addictive medications. The increased availability of prescription medication in the homes of older adults makes it vitally important to regularly clean out and dispose of old, unwanted, or unneeded prescription medication.

"Unused or unwanted medication left inside the home is a potential hazard that can lead to drug misuse, drug addiction or lethal overdose," said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. "In an older person's home, these risks can be amplified. These medications can be stolen, sold, or abused by others for whom they were not prescribed. They can be accidentally ingested or abused by other family members including children. We encourage older adults, their family and caregivers to consider these risks and take proper action to discard unused or unwanted medications."

During the DEA's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, individuals may drop off unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication at any of the hundreds of secure locations throughout the state. The service is free and anonymous.

The DEA has offered National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day since 2010 with the goal of fighting prescription drug misuse by creating convenient ways to dispose of medication that would otherwise be at risk of misuse in home medicine cabinets. During National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in April 2021, the DEA and more than 4,400 law enforcement agencies collected almost 840,000 pounds of unused medication across more than 5,000 collections sites.

For more information on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day visit takebackday.dea.gov.

Find one of Pennsylvania's year-round drug take-back locations at ddap.pa.gov/drugtakeback.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACTS:   Ali Gantz, DDAP, ra-dapressoffice@pa.gov

                                    Jack Eilber, Aging, agingcomms@pa.gov

                                    Joseph Butera, DMVA, jobutera@pa.gov

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