Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh is encouraging community members in the Eastern District of Virginia to participate in DEA’s 20th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, to be held at participating locations on Saturday, April 24, 2021.
For this year’s Take Back Day, Acting U.S. Attorney Parekh will be participating in a public event with senior leadership of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), including Acting Administrator D. Christopher Evans and Washington Division Special Agent in Charge Jarod Forget. The event will also feature Acting Director Regina LaBelle of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the 2020 Miss America, Camille Schrier, who is currently pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree at Virginia Commonwealth University and serves as a prescription safety advocate. The event will take place on April 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfax County Police Department’s West Springfield District Station, which serves as a Take Back site for the community.
“Take Back Day allows our communities to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs, which could save lives by reducing the chances that they will be misused and cause an overdose,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We must continue working together to raise awareness about the need for everyone to remain vigilant year-round in safely disposing of prescription drugs that are no longer needed. We fully support these vital efforts by DEA and all of our law enforcement partners as we stand united in combating the opioid crisis that has been ravaging our communities.”
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a bi-annual event that aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means for disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications. This service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked of individuals who participate in the event.
Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that opioid overdose deaths have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to preliminary CDC data, 87,203 Americans died as a result of a drug overdose from Oct. 1, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2020, which is the most ever recorded within a one-year period and represents an approximately 27 percent increase in reported deaths year-over-year. The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating significantly during the first months of the public health crisis.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, fatal drug overdoses have been the leading cause of accidental or unnatural deaths in Virginia since 2013, and in the second and third quarters of 2020, the Commonwealth experienced a more than 62% increase in fatal drug overdoses compared to the same time periods in 2019.
Over the 10-year span of Take Back Day, DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs. DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms. Liquids, including intravenous solutions, syringes and other sharp objects, and illegal drugs will not be accepted. DEA will continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges at any of its drop-off locations, as long as the lithium batteries are removed.