November 12, 2013

'Drug Take Back Day' nets over 8,500 pounds

Kaiser Permanente facilities in California collected 8,519 pounds of unwanted medications as part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s “ National Prescription Drug Take Back Day” held on Oct. 26.

Local residents were encouraged to bring their unwanted, unused and expired medications to 28 Kaiser Permanente sites as part of the national effort to reduce the risk of abuse, accidental poisonings and environmental damage posed by such drugs.

The prescription medications turned in at Kaiser Permanente facilities accounted for approximately 12 percent of the total collected throughout the state.

“We are very pleased with the results of our participation in ‘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. This partnership with the DEA and local law enforcement benefits our members, the communities we serve and the environment, while raising awareness about a critical public health issue.”

Woodland Hills, Calif. Drug Take Back Day drop off point

Woodland Hills, Calif. Drug Take Back Day drop off point

Woodland Hills, Calif. Drug Take Back Day Volunteers

Drug Take Back Day Volunteers

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 die every year of 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 thrown in the trash, where they could be retrieved and abused, or flushed down the toilet, negatively impacting the water supply.

“The local pharmacy and public affairs employees and other personnel did a tremendous job in promoting, staging and staffing the collection sites,” said Mark Horowitz, RPh, National Pharmacy Fraud Control manager and coordinator of the region-wide effort. “The fact that Kaiser Permanente represented such a large proportion of the medications collected is a real testament to this team effort.”

Shortly after the event, Horowitz accepted an award from the DEA in recognition of Kaiser Permanente’s strong performance. This was the DEA’s seventh “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.” Citizens turned in 647,211 pounds (324 tons) of expired and unwanted medications at 5,683 take-back sites in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. When the results of the seven events to date are combined, the DEA and its local community partners have removed over 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of medication from circulation

In a drug take-back effort last April, Kaiser Permanente facilities in Southern California collected 3,308 pounds of prescription medications. The Oct. 26 collection was the first one that Northern California facilities participated in, collecting 4,455 pounds at 11 sites. Southern California received 4,064 pounds at 17 locations.

Kaiser Permanente facilities in other regions will have the opportunity to participate in another drug take back effort next April. In addition, 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. For more information on the DEA’s Drug take Back Program, go to For more information about medication safety programs at Kaiser Permanente, visit

Kaiser Permanente facilities in California that participated in the Oct. 26 event include Fremont, Oakland, Pinole, Richmond, Roseville, Sacramento, San Rafael, Santa Clara, South Sacramento, Vallejo, Walnut Creek, Ontario, Fontana, Victorville, Riverside, Kraemer, Alton/Sand Canyon, South Bay, Sunset, Panorama City, West Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Oxnard, Otay Mesa, San Marcos, Bellflower, Baldwin Park and Kern County.