updated 4/26/2011 11:47:17 AM ET 2011-04-26T15:47:17

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 26, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The American Association of Poison Control Centers is proud to announce its support of the Drug Enforcement Administration's second national prescription drug take-back day.

The free event, scheduled for Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time across the country, will give the public a chance to prevent pill abuse and theft by disposing safely of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs.

Medications were the leading cause of poisoning deaths in 2009, according to American Association of Poison Control Centers, and sedatives/hypnotics/ antipsychotics, cardiovascular drugs, opioids and acetaminophen combinations were most frequently associated with poison-related deaths that year. Most medication-related deaths occurred among adults.

The public can help eliminate drugs that are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse by safely disposing of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs. According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than abuse cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined.

The Texas Panhandle Poison Center in Amarillo, Texas, held its first Medication Cleanout™ event in September 2009. Since then, officials with that center have collected almost 3,000 pounds and more than 20,000 containers of medications. Survey results at local schools show that prescription drug abuse among students in Amarillo is decreasing, a trend counter to that in most of the nation.

"More than half of the people that have brought unused medications to an event say that they would have kept the medications in their home if a medication take-back program was not available," said Ronica Farrar, educator with Texas Panhandle Poison Center and co-founder of Medication Cleanout™. "By providing a method for people to get rid of the medicine they no longer need, we are preventing poisonings, abuse, and misuse while protecting the environment.

The Texas Panhandle Poison Center is one of many around the country participating in local events:

  • The Upstate New York Poison Center is working with Walgreens pharmacies to host events at three Walgreens sites in the region. That center will also survey those who drop off medication to determine the number of medications they're dropping off as well as what they would do if there were no collection sites.
  • Several centers will provide free educational materials including magnets and stickers to help support the event. Those centers include the Upstate New York Poison Center; Florida/USVI Poison Information Center – Jacksonville; the Florida Poison Informatihe North Texas Poison Center; the Virginia Poison Center; the Blue Ridge Poison Center and the National Capital Poison Center.
  • The Florida/USVI Poison Information Center – Jacksonville is also using its social media and grassroots networks to help individuals find the closest available collection site. The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, meanwhile, is doing marketing for the event to local listservs, health clinics and to the media. And the Hennepin Regional Poison Center in Minnesota is doing public relations with local media for the event as well as highlighting AWARxE, a local program developed by the Minnesota Pharmacists Foundation that educates teens and adults about drug safety and the dangers of medication abuse.
  • The Washington Poison Center teamed up with the regional director for DEA and Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna for a TV appearance highlighting the importance of the event. That center will also send its "Mr. Yuk" mascot to a take-back site in Seattle.
  • The Nebraska Regional Poison Center, which also covers Wyoming, has sent out a press release highlighting the event, and poison center staff will be at a site in Omaha. Poison center staff also served on a committee that organized several take back sites around Nebraska. The Nebraska center also covers the Federated States of Micronesia, and has coordinated with public health officials in Micronesia to organize ongoing take-back events there.
  • The Utah Poison Control Center has worked closely with the local DEA on marketing for the events, including creating advertising flyers for each event location. That center is also working to provide pharmacy students to help sort medication at each event. Finally, the Utah Poison Control Center is using its interactive voice response telephone system to provide information about the take-back events around the state, including addresses of each location.
  • The North Texas Poison Center is supporting two sites in Tarrant County, including one being held in conjunction with the African American Health Expo.

During the DEA's first national take-back event in September 2010, through the assistance of the poison centers' community outreach programs, Americans turned in more than 242,000 pounds – 121 tons – of prescription drugs at some 4,100 sites operated by more than 3,000 of the DEA's state and local law enforcement partners, according to the DEA.

Take-back events are a cornerstone of U.S. poison centers' efforts to curb prescription drug abuse. Even prior to the national take-back event, poison centers regularly partnered with local law enforcement for local take-back events.

"The DEA's involvement in this issue underscores the vital public health threat posed by prescription drug abuse." said American Association of Poison Control Centers President Richard Dart, M.D., P.h.D. "We are thrilled to participate in a national take-back event, and we applaud the DEA for its emphasis on this vital public health issue."

"Poison centers are prepared to take calls about medication or anything else that can be harmful to you if taken the wrong way," said Jim Hirt, executive director of the American Association of Poison Control Centers. "Poison centers are staffed with medical experts who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions."

To find the nearest collection site to you, visit www.dea.gov , click on the "Got Drugs?" icon and follow the links to the page that allows you to enter your zip code.

Contact: Jessica Wehrman


(703) 894-1863


This information was brought to you by Cision http://www.cisionwire.com


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