BATON ROUGE, La. – Expired or unused prescription medications clutter most people’s medicine cabinets—making them a risk for misuse, abuse or overdose. Each year on the last Saturday of April, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day gives Louisianians a safe and easy way to clear out any unwanted medications and bring them to a location for safe disposal.
Drug Take Back Day is a nationwide effort to get potentially dangerous prescription medications out of people’s homes. In Baton Rouge, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana and partners from the DEA, state and local law enforcement and members of the Baton Rouge Health District will hold a wellness and safety event focused on secure drug disposal.
The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, at Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters, 9000 Airline Highway. Anyone can bring old or unwanted medications for safe disposal. Turn-ins are anonymous and no questions will be asked. Visitors can simply drive through and drop off their medications or can park and visit partner booths. Families are welcome, and the event will feature several activities for children, including an air ambulance landing and helicopter display.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the opioid epidemic worse in the past two years. The record numbers of drug overdose deaths in our community are unacceptable,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross Special Investigations manager. “We have to do our part to keep our homes and loved ones safe from opioids and other potentially dangerous prescription drugs.”
Cowart said, “Take the time to go through your home and get rid of unused, unwanted and expired medications to lower the risk of them ending up in the wrong hands or having young children or pets ingest them by accident. We hope people will take advantage of this free, easy way to get leftover drugs out of their homes and potentially off the streets.”
Why we need a Drug Take Back Day:
With the opioid crisis worsening and the rate of opioid overdoses increasing, drug safety is a problem for people of all ages.
• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the number of drug-overdose deaths in Louisiana rose more rapidly than any other state during the 12 months that ended July 2021.
• About 1,720 Louisianians died from overdoses during that period, which saw what the CDC estimates to be a record 86,000 overdose deaths nationwide. Louisiana’s overdose death rate is 53% higher than in the same time period the year before, a spike twice as steep as the national average.
• The CDC estimates that 75,000 children ages 18 and under visit an emergency room each year because of medication accidents. More than 80% of those visits happen when an unsupervised child finds and takes a drug.
• The CDC says that adverse drug events cause more than 1 million emergency room visits each year and recommends families keep their household drugs (especially prescription painkillers), vitamins and herbal supplements in a safe place that children or pets can’t get into.
More options for safe drug disposal:
If you can’t make it this weekend, or you live outside the Baton Rouge area, you have other safe disposal options.
• Those outside the Greater Baton Rouge Area can visit www.dea.gov/takebackday or check local news to find Drug Take Back Day events near them on April 30.
• For prescription drug disposal year-round, Blue Cross partners with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and law enforcement offices to install secure and anonymous drug drop boxes throughout the state. See a map of these locations to find one close to you.
If you must put old medications in your household trash, follow these guidelines:
1) Mix the medicines with an unpleasant substance, such as dirt, used kitty litter or used coffee grounds, so it’s less appealing to children or pets.
2) Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or other disposable container.
3) Throw the container in your household trash.
For more information:
Visit Blue Cross’ prescription drug safety site for more information or ask your health care providers or pharmacists for advice. Other drug safety resources include:
• The CDC’s medication safety information page
• The American Association of Poison Control Centers
• The National Poison Control Hotline, 1-800-222-1222
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short health videos on prescription drug safety and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past three years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media.