Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and Ranking Member G. K. Butterfield (NC-1), who worked closely together to hold two nationally-televised Congressional hearings on the growing danger of prescription drug abuse, have joined forces once again to raise awareness about the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which will be held on Saturday (Sept. 29) from 10 am to 2 pm.
Bono Mack and Butterfield have teamed up in recent months on several important bipartisan initiatives, and they say the DEA's Take-Back Day is the perfect opportunity for Americans to safely dispose of unwanted or unused prescription drugs.
During the DEA's last National Take-Back Day held in April, Americans turned in a record-breaking 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe, proper disposal at 5,659 sites across the United States. All totaled, the DEA and its state, local, and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed over 1.5 million pounds (774 tons) of medication from circulation during its previous four National Take-Back Days.
Today, prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in America, claiming more than 20,000 lives a year, and is considered a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"It's critically important to dispose of unwanted or expired medicines," Congresswoman Bono Mack said. "Often there is a false sense of security: "If it's approved by the FDA and prescribed by a doctor then it must be okay.' But, tragically, that's not always the case. Too many pills taken at once, or combining them with other drugs, and alcohol, can have serious and even deadly consequences. We must keep these potentially dangerous drugs out of the hands of our kids. I commend the DEA for taking this issue seriously, and thank my good friend and colleague, Congressman Butterfield, for his commitment to ending this terrible epidemic."
According to a recent national survey, some 7 million Americans age 12 or older regularly abuse prescription drugs, and there are approximately 7,000 new abusers every day -- many of them teenagers and young adults. This alarming trend is taking a huge toll on society. One way to combat the problem is to safely dispose of unused and unwanted medicines.
"Unfortunately, we are experiencing a trend where prescription drugs are easier for kids to get a hold of than illicit drugs," said Butterfield. "Our youth most often find these drugs in their parents' medicine cabinets. This program, which provides an opportunity to safely dispose of unused medicines, is vital to protecting our kids from the many hazards of prescription drug abuse. I applaud my colleague, Congresswoman Bono Mack, and the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration for brining attention to this critically important issue."
Bono Mack and Butterfield say America is starting to see some progress in the fight against prescription drug abuse, but a lot more has to be done. By better coordinating the efforts of local, state and national agencies -- and through initiatives like the DEA's Drug Take-Back initiative -- the two Congressional leaders are optimistic that "we can eventually save thousands of lives, and spare millions of American families from the devastating heartache of addiction."