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April 25, 2018

DHEC Encourages Disposal of Unused Prescription Drugs on Take Back Day on April 28

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Prescription opioid overdoses were involved in the deaths of 550 South Carolinians in 2016, underscoring the dangers of prescription drug abuse. In addition, first responders in South Carolina had to administer the opioid antidote naloxone to suspected opioid overdose victims 7,213 times in 2017, a 12% percent increase from 2016.

On April 28, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is encouraging citizens to drop off unused, expired, or unwanted prescription drugs at locations around the state participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Participating law enforcement agencies and locations can be found on the DHEC website.

Held twice a year, this national observance aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs, while educating the public about the potential for abuse of medication.

"Unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue that could lead to potential accidental poisoning, misuse, or overdose," said Shelly Kelly, DHEC's Director of Health Regulation. "Studies show that over half of abused prescription drugs are obtained -often unknowingly- from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet."

The take-back programs help reduce childhood overdoses, restrict household drug theft, limit the accumulation of drugs by the elderly, protect our physical environment, reduce pharmaceutical contamination of fresh water, and eliminate waste.

The DEA can only accept pills or patches. It does not accept liquids, needles, or sharps. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October Americans turned in 456 tons (912,305 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 14 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 9 million pounds-more than 4,500 tons-of pills.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 28 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.


DHEC Media Relations
(803) 898-7769