The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

White House Drug Policy Director Attends Prescription Drug Take-Back Event

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) joined John Bryfonski, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge, Philadelphia Field Division, at a prescription drug take-back event in Philadelphia. Zane Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross, and Mr. Bernard Strain, Coordinator of the Pennsylvania P2D2 program were also in attendance.

This event is one of 4,000 take-back events occurring today as a part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back campaign spearheaded by the DEA to collect potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unneeded prescription drugs for destruction at sites nationwide.

“I commend the DEA under Acting Administrator Leonhart’s leadership for its efforts in coordinating this important nationwide prescription drug take-back effort” said Director Kerlikowske. “More than 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends or family – often from the home medicine cabinet. Expanding take-back efforts nationwide is a critical step in preventing prescription drug diversion and abuse, while safeguarding the environment.”

Last week, Director Kerlikowske and other Administration officials released the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The new data show increases in the non-medical use of prescription drugs. The number of people who abuse prescription drugs has increased 20 percent from 2002 – 2009, from 4.4 million people using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes, to 5.3 million in 2009. Additionally, more people initiate drug use for the first time by abusing prescription drugs than any other drug. Of the 2.6 million new drug users in 2009, 2.2 million were non-medical users of prescription pain relievers.

The 2010 National Drug Control Strategy outlines several steps to address what Director Kerlikowske calls “the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States.”

They include:

  • Increasing prescription drug return, take-back, and disposal programs. Prescription drugs that are commonly abused are often found in the family medicine cabinet, and individuals should dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs to prevent diversion and abuse.
  • Educating prescribers about opiate painkiller prescribing. The Administration’s FY 2011 Budget request proposes funding for a program to train prescribers on how to instruct patients in the proper use and disposal of painkillers, to observe signs of dependence, and to use prescription drug monitoring programs to detect when individuals are going from doctor-to-doctor (“doctor shopping”) in search of prescriptions.
  • Public education about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Many people mistakenly believe that prescription drugs are safer to abuse than so-called “street” drugs, simply because they are prescribed by a doctor. Parents must educate their children about the dangers inherent in abusing prescription drugs.
  • Expansion and enhancement of prescription drug monitoring programs. Currently, these programs operate in 34 states. The Administration supports establishment of monitoring programs in every state, and is seeking to ensure new and existing monitoring programs effectively use the data they acquire and share information across state lines.
  • Assisting states in addressing doctor shopping and pill mills. Criminal organizations have established thriving businesses of transporting people to states with little regulation to obtain prescription drugs from multiple doctors or from pill mills, which distribute drugs indiscriminately. Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities are working together to address this problem.
  • Driving illegal Internet pharmacies out of business.
  • Cracking down on rogue pain clinics that do not follow appropriate prescription practices.

The National Drug Control Strategy provides a blueprint for reducing prescription drug abuse. Parents, law enforcement, the medical community, and all levels of government have a role to play in reducing prescription drug abuse.

To find a take-back program near you, visit: www.justice.gov/dea

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