Where will local Bi-Mart pharmacy customers go?

WESTERN TREASURE VALLEY — The Drug Enforcement Administration is urging citizens across the nation to participate in its 21st annual Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday in which unwanted and unused medications can be dropped off, no questions asked, to be properly disposed.

According to the DEA’s take back website, there are two official drop-off locations for the national take-back day in the Western Treasure Valley: Weiser Police Department and Weiser Memorial Hospital.

It’s noteworthy that unwanted, unused prescription medication can be dropped off year-round at most pharmacies and local law enforcement offices, including Malheur County Sheriff’s Office and Ontario and Nyssa police departments.

The aim of the event, which happens across the nation twice a year, is to address the public health issue of medicines languishing in home cabinets being misused and abused. According to a news release from the DEA, opioid overdose deaths increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The misuse of prescription medications is an epidemic that kills more Americans than car accidents, according to the DEA. The majority of people who misuse such medicines got it from a family member or friend, according to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In 2020, drug overdose deaths skyrocketed to the most ever recorded in a single year. According to the DEA, 93,000 people died in the U.S., with opioid-related deaths accounting for 75% of those.

According to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, those deaths equate to more than 250 people per day, up more than 30% over the previous year.

“One thing is clear: prevention starts at home. I urge Americans to do their part to prevent prescription pill misuse: simply take your unneeded medications to a local collection site. It’s simple, free, anonymous, and it can save a life.”

Over the years, more than 7,000 tons of medication have been collected during the take-back days.

One Pill Can Kill

Milgram says criminal drug networks are exploiting the crisis by making and falsely marketing deadly, fake pills as legitimate prescriptions, which are flooding U.S. communities.

In recent weeks, DEA issued a public awareness campaign titled One Pill Can Kill. The aim is to warn Americans of those fake pills, cautioning that criminal drug networks are shipping chemicals from China to Mexico where they are converted into dangerous substances like fentanyl and methamphetamine and then pressed into pills.

“These fake, deadly pills are widely available and deadlier than ever,” reads a news release. “Fake pills are designed to appear nearly identical to legitimate prescriptions such as Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Adderall®, Xanax® and other medicines.”

The pills are being sold through myriad channels, including social media, e-commerce, the dark web and existing distribution networks, according to the DEA.

The DEA urges people to remember the only safe medications are those prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacists. All others should be considered unsafe and potentially deadly.

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