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Schimel launches prescription drug take back program

MADISON – Wisconsin law enforcement heard encouraging news Feb. 18 when Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that the Department of Justice will now take the lead and will coordinate a prescription drug disposal program in Wisconsin.

“With the opiate epidemic devastating families and communities across our state, we must work together to remove unused prescription opioids from circulation. They need to be collected and destroyed,” Schimel said. “This program will also reduce the environmental hazards associated with the improper disposal of unused prescription drugs.”

In 2010, the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act was signed. As a stop-gap measure until federal regulations were changed, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began conducting take back events to assist local law enforcement agencies and citizens in the disposal of unused prescription drugs.

In September of 2014, the federal administrative code regarding drug disposal changed and the DEA announced they would no longer be conducting the drug take back program.  The last event conducted by the DEA in Wisconsin was in September 2014. This created a need for local law enforcement agencies and citizens to find a means to safely dispose of excess prescription drugs.

Local law enforcement grew to rely on the program and many now have 24/7 drop boxes for the unused prescription drugs.  They continue to offer this service to their communities but they require a mechanism to safely, effectively and legally dispose of the drugs they receive, without causing an undue financial burden on their agencies or communities. Personnel and overtime costs have been a challenge for smaller agencies, as some cannot provide an officer at take back events.

As a partner with law enforcement and community stakeholders, DOJ will provide the personnel and logistical resources to help make the Attorney General’s program a success.

The first collection day in 2015 will take place in mid- to late May and DOJ will continue to do a minimum of two collections per year.  At the last statewide collection in September 2014, Wisconsin residents safely disposed of more than 17 tons of unused prescription medications, making Wisconsin one of the highest participating states in the nation.  A fall collection date will follow, most likely in September/October.  If a need for more frequent pickups and disposals is needed, we will work with our local partners to accommodate their requests as we become more efficient in administering the program.