Unused and Expired Prescription Drugs Pose Safety Threat

(Providence, RI, 4.19.2011)

In a nationwide effort to clear homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) is supporting the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day taking place on Saturday, April 30. Dozens of locations across the state will be collecting unwanted prescription drugs for safe disposal.

"Many people do not realize that the nonmedical use of prescription drugs is reaching epidemic levels," said Dr. Gus Manocchia, vice president and chief medical officer at BCBSRI. "Unused prescription medicines left in homes can be misused or abused if they get in the wrong hands of children, family or friends. The ‘Drug Take-Back' day is an important program that offers our community a safe way to dispose of prescription drugs."

During its inaugural National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in September 2010, the DEA collected more than 780 pounds of prescription drugs across the state. This year on April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the DEA has dozens of locations across the states, including police departments in Barrington, Coventry, North Providence, Wakefield and Westerly, available for Rhode Islanders to dispose unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, and no questions will be asked.

According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens and heroin combined. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that 20-percent of the U. S. population or 48 million people have at one time used prescription medication for non-medical uses. And the Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, while the DEA indicates sixty-three percent of teens believe that prescription drugs are easy to get from friends' and family's medicine cabinet.

This important initiative also addresses a vital safety issue. Disposing of unused medications through the DEA collection process is a safe and environmentally-friendly way as opposed to flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose safety and health hazards.

For more information and to find a collection site near you, visit www.dea.gov, click on "Got Drugs?" and enter your zip code.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state's leading health insurer and covers more than 600,000 members. The company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit www.bcbsri.comand follow us on Twitter @BCBSRI.

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