New ways to fight the overdose epidemic are coming out every day, many of them controversial.
Here's one that's not: Bring old prescription medicines to designated drop-off locations – more than 100 in the Philadelphia region come up in the Drug Enforcement Administration's search tool – on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
April 30 is the 11th national Drug Take-Back Day. The first 10 collected more than 5.5 million pounds of drugs, the DEA said.
Unused drugs left in drawers or medicine chests can tempt experimentation by children and theft by visitors; real-estate agents say homeowners sometimes find medicines missing after an open house. Pain pills can then be sold on the street, leading to addiction and, occasionally, heroin use. Opioids are responsible for tens of thousands of overdose deaths a year.
The DEA says that throwing old pills in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can be a safety hazard. Medicines dropped off at Saturday's locations, manned by law enforcement officers, are picked up and disposed of by the agency.
"Prescription drug abuse has reached an epidemic level across the county. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in their home cabinets are highly susceptible to illegal diversion, misuse, and abuse," Gary Tuggle, special agent in charge of the DEA's Philadelphia Division, said in a statement. "I am encouraging the public to take full advantage of this free service."