Attorney General Holder Acts to ‘Take-Back’ Unnecessary Prescription Drugs

Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulation that represents new take-back efforts to dispose of unused and unnecessary prescription drugs so that the growing problems of prescription drug misuse and addiction can be mitigated. The Attorney General announced the new regulation through a video message posted on the Justice Department’s website. According to the Attorney General’s message, “prescription drug misuse is an urgent and growing threat.”


The video message highlights the fact that the scope of the problem is expansive. For example, according to the video, “in 2011 alone, more than half of the 41,300 unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States involved prescription drugs, and hazardous opioid pain relievers led to about 17,000 of those deaths.” According to a DOJ press release, the danger is particularly prominent for young people. Despite the risk, many instances of misuse appear to have simple solutions. For example, The Attorney General commented that almost four in ten teens who have misused prescription drugs obtained them from their parents’ medicine cabinets.

New Regulation

The new DEA regulation will allow pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, and other authorized collectors to function as drop-off sites where unused prescription drugs can be disposed. The new policy will also allow long-term care facilities to collect controlled substances turned in by residents of those facilities. Additionally, the DEA regulation will allow any user of prescription drugs to mail their unused prescription drugs to authorized collectors. The hope, according to the Attorney General’s video, is that the new regulation will save lives and protect families from the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Other Efforts

The DEA has been engaged in continuing efforts to reduce the misuse of prescription drugs. One example is the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day initiative that promotes awareness and provides resources to allow individuals to get rid of unnecessary drugs. During the DEA’s last take-back event, the DEA coordinated the safe return of 390 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 6,100 sites. The next take-back event will be September 27, 2014.