CONSUMER ALERT: DISPOSE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS SAFELY

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September 26, 2012

LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas consumers can help in the fight against prescription drug abuse on Saturday, Sept. 29, by safely disposing of their unused, unwanted or expired drugs on national Prescription Drug "Take-Back" Day.

The drug take-back initiative provides Arkansans with the opportunity to clean out their medicine cabinets of the out-of-date prescriptions that could pose a danger to children or be easily accessible to friends or family members that could abuse the drugs.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this Consumer Alert today to encourage Arkansans to participate in the bi-annual "Take-Back" event and to raise awareness about the damaging impact of prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem across the country, but particularly in Arkansas, which has led the nation in abuse of prescription drugs by teenagers, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In a survey of Arkansas high school students last year, more than one in five high school seniors reported having abused prescription drugs. About 8 percent of high school seniors had taken prescription pills for nonmedical purposes within the previous 30 days.

The leading source for prescription drugs taken for nonmedical uses is the medicine cabinets of family members and friends.

"If we eliminate an abuser's easy access to prescription drugs, then we can work toward stopping the problem of prescription drug abuse," McDaniel said. "Consumers have the chance to make a difference on Saturday by seeing that their unwanted or unused drugs are safely destroyed, for the benefit of our state and the environment."

Not only do the drug take-back days help curtail prescription drug abuse, they also provide consumers with an environmentally safe way to dispose of unused or expired medications. Throwing drugs in the trash or flushing them down the toilet pose health and safety hazards.

Since the drug take-back programs began in 2010, Arkansans have safely disposed of 17 tons of medication. That's nearly 50 million pills. Saturday will be the fifth Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

McDaniel's office, the Arkansas Drug Director's office and other state agencies participate in the "Monitor, Secure, Dispose" program to fight drug abuse.

McDaniel offered these recommendations to help prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse:

*Monitor your prescriptions, taking note of how many pills are in each bottle or packet and keep track of refills.

*Secure all medicines - prescription and over-the-counter - in a location inaccessible to children, teenagers or potential abusers.

*Make sure relatives, especially grandparents, keep their medications locked or in a safe place.

*Dispose of expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs at take-back events or at permanent collection sites sponsored by law enforcement agencies. For a list of sites or more details about Drug "Take-Back" Day, visit www.artakeback.org.

*When disposing of empty pill bottles, remove personal, identifiable information from the bottles or packaging to prevent unauthorized refills.

The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office can provide more information about prescription drugs and prescription drug abuse. Contact the Consumer Protection Division on the web at www.GotYourBackArkansas.org or call (800) 482-8982.

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