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Press Release

Kaiser Permanente Collects More Than 8,200 Pounds of Unwanted Medications

May 22, 2014



A pile of medicine bottles

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente facilities in California, Washington and Oregon collected 8,255 pounds of unwanted medications as part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,” held April 26.

Local residents were encouraged to bring their unwanted, unused and expired medications to 30 Kaiser Permanente sites as part of the national effort to reduce the risk of abuse, accidental poisonings and environmental damage posed by such drugs.

“We are very pleased to have had such a tremendous response to our collection sites for ‘National Prescription Drug Take Back Day,’ ” said David Kvancz, vice president, Kaiser Permanente national pharmacy programs and services. “Reducing the amount of unused and expired medications is an important part of keeping our communities safe and healthy. By partnering with the DEA and local law enforcement in this event, we are able to directly enhance medication safety for those who bring in unwanted drugs and also raise awareness of this important public health issue.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from the use of prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade. Nearly 15,000 people nationwide die every year from overdoses involving prescription painkillers. Properly storing and disposing of prescription medication can reduce the number of people who misuse, abuse or overdose from these powerful drugs.

The collection effort diverts medications that might otherwise be abused or flushed down the toilet, negatively impacting the water supply.

Logo for the DEA's office of Diversion Control, who runs the National Drug Take Back DayOverall, the DEA collected 780,158 pounds (390 tons) during this eighth “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.” Last October, Kaiser Permanente facilities in California collected 8,519 pounds of unwanted medications as part of the event. Taken together, all “Take Back Day” events have resulted in the collection of 4.1 million pounds (2,123 tons) of prescription medications.

In addition, Kaiser Permanente members can always purchase “mail back,” postage-paid envelopes at Kaiser Permanente pharmacies to send unwanted medications to a third-party vendor for safe disposal.

Some cities and counties have their own secure collection receptacles and conduct local collection campaigns. Learn more about DEA’s Drug Take Back Program on their website. For more information about medication safety programs at Kaiser Permanente, visit kp.org.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 9.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.