DEA collects more than 740,000 pounds of unused drugs

WASHINGTON — The Drug Enforcement Administration collected more than 371 tons of unused medications last month as part of its sixth annual drug take-back program, the agency said.

For National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, on April 27, the DEA collected 742,497 pounds of medications at more than 5,800 locations, with cooperation from state, local and Native American tribal law enforcement agencies that partnered with the agency. The total amount of drugs collected over the past six years amounts to more than 2.8 million pounds. The purpose of the events is to prevent drugs from ending up in landfills and water supplies, as well as to keep controlled substances out of the hands of drug abusers.

According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey, twice as many Americans regularly abused prescription drugs in 2011 as those who abused cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and inhalants combined. According to the same survey, more than 70% of people abusing prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives.