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Unused and Expired Prescription Drugs Pose Safety Threat

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April 19, 2011

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania Supports the DEA’s Nationwide Prescription "Drug Take-Back Day"

April 19, 2011, Wilkes-Barre, PA - In a nationwide effort to clear homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) is supporting the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 30.

"Over time, the chemical makeup and potency of drugs can change," said Leo M. Hartz, M.D., Vice President and Interim Chief Medical Officer for BCNEPA. "Taking medications after they expire may mean that the drug is no longer effective, and may even pose a safety hazard. Nationwide Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a convenient and responsible way to dispose of expired and unused drugs, and Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is proud to support this effort."

According to a national survey on drug use and health, more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those using cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined. The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet. In addition, it’s advised that usual methods of disposing unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – both pose potential environmental safety and health hazards.

This year on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the DEA will have nearly 40 locations across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania available for the public to drop off unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For more information and to find a collection site near you, visit, click on the "Got Drugs?" banner and enter your zip code.

During its inaugural National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in September 2010, the DEA collected more than 121 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 4,100 collection sites across the country.

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to more than 555,000 individuals in 13 counties in Northeastern and North Central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide innovative wellness solutions that increase access to high-quality, affordable health care and promote personal accountability.

Media Contact:
Anthony Matrisciano