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April 28: Safely discard your prescription drugs

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We bet if you looked deep in your medicine cabinet, you’d find some old prescriptions that are way past their expiration date. Before you toss them into your trashcan, take a step back wait for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 28.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmaceuticals — including prescription drugs — have been found in our nation’s water and could harm the environment. And while there is no evidence that these pharmaceuticals are responsible for negative health effects in humans, keeping our water clean is of vital importance. In addition, prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States, the CDC said, and unused drugs left in medicine cabinets are not helping — especially when teens have easy access.

“Prescription drugs in the home are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse, and improper drug disposal can pose a threat to the environment,” said AMA president Peter W. Carmel, M.D., in a press release. “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day provides people across the country with an opportunity to safely and properly dispose of their unwanted or expired prescription drugs.”

At the last prescription drug take-back event on Oct. 29, 2011, the DEA collected more than 188.5 tons of unwanted or expired medications.

Unfortunately, there is no safe, legal way for people to return unused drugs all year, Dr. Carmel said. “The AMA supports legislation that would address this issue, as it is an important part of the overall strategy for combating prescription drug abuse.”

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will take place on April 28 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Click here to find a collection site near you.

To learn more about what the AMA is doing to combat drug diversion, visit Ama-assn.org/go/stopdrugabuse.

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