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Westport's prescription drug 'Take Back Day' on Saturday

Updated 9:15 am, Saturday, April 27, 2013
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On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Westport Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration will conduct a prescription-drug "Take Back" day for area residents to turn in expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.

Medications will be disposed of at Town Hall at 110 Myrtle Ave. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Last September, Americans turned in 244 tons of prescription drugs at more than 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners, according to a Westport police press release. In its five previous "Take Back events," DEA and its partners took in more than 2 million pounds -- over 1,000 tons -- of pills.

"This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue," the release said. "Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and 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. Common methods for disposing of unused medicines -- flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash -- pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amended the Controlled Substances Act to allow an "ultimate user" of controlled-substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the attorney general to accept them. The act also allows the attorney general to authorize long-term care facilities to dispose of residents' controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is drafting regulations to implement the act.

Until new regulations are in place, law-enforcement agencies like the Westport Police Department and the DEA will continue to conduct prescription drug take-back events every few months.