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WASHINGTON -- With families encouraged to stay at home due to the nationwide health crisis, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is asking Americans to keep prescription medications safe and secure until they can properly dispose of them.

The Secure Your Meds awareness campaign addresses a vital public safety and health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. The campaign also prompts families to discuss the issue of controlled prescription drug abuse.

“Protecting the health and safety of our communities is DEA’s top priority, especially during the unprecedented public health emergency,” stated DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “With Americans at home, families need to be even more vigilant and keep prescription medications safe, secure, and out of reach of children and others in the household.”

“While families are doing all they can to stay safe from the coronavirus, I want to remind everyone to make sure they continue to secure their prescription medications,” stated Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s New Jersey Division, Susan A. Gibson. “Although the 2020 Spring Take Back Day has been postponed, there are still options for New Jersey residents to properly dispose of their medications. They can go to www.americanmedicinechest.com or www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/meddrop for prescription drop boxes in their local area.”

Special Agent in Charge Gibson further stated, “I want the public to know that DEA is fully operational during this unprecedented time. DEA has worked in consultation with HHS to allow DEA-registered practitioners to issue prescriptions for controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation. This telemedicine practice will continue while the public health emergency declaration remains in effect. With that being said, I want to assure the public that DEA will aggressively pursue those who seek to take advantage of this situation and violate the Controlled Substances Act. Our goal is to keep the community safe.”

DEA holds its national Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year. However, because of the current nationwide coronavirus pandemic, DEA postponed the 2020 Spring Take Back Day, originally scheduled for April 25. DEA will reschedule Take Back day for a date shortly after the health crisis recedes and national emergency guidelines are lifted. 

In the meantime, DEA wants to remind Americans to clean out their medicine cabinets and secure unused, unwanted, and expired prescription medications for the next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, on a date to be determined. 

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States 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. 

Once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifts restrictions, DEA will reschedule Take Back Day. More information on the Secure Your Meds campaign and Take Back Day are available at www.DEATakeBack.com.

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