State News

Vermonters hand over 3.5 tons of unneeded medication on drug take-back day

Vermonters turned in almost 3.5 tons of unused, unwanted and expired medication on the 22nd nationwide prescription drug take-back day Saturday, April 30.

The total of 6,950.1 pounds collected eclipsed every previous prescription drug take-back day except for the event held in spring 2021.

“The continued success of this program is a testament to how seriously Vermonters take the issue of properly disposing of unused medication, which we know can fuel addiction when treated less carefully,” said Gov. Phil Scott. “Getting these drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets is a key element of our prevention strategies, and I thank our local, state and federal partners — and especially every Vermonter who participated — for their determined and ongoing work to address the opioid epidemic.”

The twice-annual event is a partnership between the Vermont Department of Health, local and state law-enforcement agencies and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help ensure prescription drugs people no longer need are discarded safely before they can be misused. This weekend, there were 64 collection sites across Vermont’s 14 counties. The collected medications are gathered securely in one place, briefly stored, then transported out of state by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and incinerated.

Medications that are improperly stored can pose a risk to the health of children and pets who might accidentally ingest the drugs. Flushing or tossing medicine in the trash can endanger waterways and wildlife.

The DEA has estimated that about 10% of the medications collected on prescription drug take back day are opioids.

“It’s inspiring to see so many people turning out to safely dispose of their unused and unwanted medication,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine. “This is especially important with prescription painkillers, because more than half of the people who misuse prescription medication get it from a friend or relative, often straight out of the medicine cabinet.”

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