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Wisconsinites Turn Out to Drop Off More Than 19 Tons Worth of Drugs During October's National Prescription Drug "Take-Back"

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp  today praised Wisconsin residents for their participation in last month’s National Prescription Drug “Take-Back” Day, which resulted in 19.25 tons (38,506 lbs) worth of unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs being dropped off statewide.  According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, which coordinates the national “Take-Back” event, Wisconsin ranked 4th in the nation in the total amount collected, trailing only the much larger states of California, Texas and New York. 


“I’m again grateful for the many people who take a few moments to participate and properly dispose of their unused prescription drugs during these events,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.  “Prescription drugs that sit in household medicine cabinets can be diverted for misuse and abuse, and sadly, can be a precursor to Heroin abuse, which we know is a significant problem across Wisconsin.  I’m also thankful to the DEA for its leadership on this initiative, and to our state, local and tribal law enforcement partners that take part or assist.”


“Wisconsinites have repeatedly shown their commitment to this issue by turning out in big numbers,” DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said.  “These ‘Take-Back’ events help to ensure these drugs are disposed of properly instead of being flushed or tossed in a landfill, which can threaten the quality of our air, surface and groundwaters, as well as our fish and wildlife.”  


Nationally, 324 tons (647,211 pounds) of expired and unwanted medications were turned back for safe and proper disposal at the 5,683 “Take-Back” sites that were available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, making the October event the second-largest collection of medications in seven “Take-Back” Days, according to the DEA.  The “Take-Back” service is free and anonymous for those who wish to drop off unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs during these biannual events. 


During the last “Take-Back” Day in April of this year, Wisconsin residents dropped off nearly 23 tons (45,581.3 lbs) worth of unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs at nearly 180 collection sites statewide.  Throughout Wisconsin in 2012, the DEA reported that a total of 30.1 tons, or 60,205 pounds, worth of prescription drugs were dropped off at collection sites during the two “Take-Back” days in April and October 2012, making Wisconsin one of the largest contributors of unwanted medications in the country. In addition to the many local law enforcement agencies that participate as drop-off sites for residents, the Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin National Guard and special agents with the Department of Justice – Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) assist with annual “Take-Back” efforts.