LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration held its semiannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Saturday at locations across the Southland and around the country, allowing people to turn in expired, unused prescription medications for disposal.
"I encourage everyone across the country to dispose of unneeded medications to help keep our communities safe and healthy," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said in a statement. "The Take Back campaign is part of DEA's continued efforts to combat the drug poisoning epidemic and protect the safety and health of communities across the United States."
The major focus of the event was to prevent unused prescription medications from falling into the hands of children or other people who may ingest them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 107,622 people died as the result of a drug poisoning in the United States last year. This suggests that someone in the U.S. is dying of a drug poisoning every five minutes, the DEA added.
Since the Drug Take Back Day began more than a decade ago, more than 7,000 tons of medications have been collected nationally, according to the DEA.
During the event, people were given the opportunity to turn in tablets, capsules, patches and other "solid forms" of prescription drugs. Authorities also accepted vaping devices and cartridges.
"When they tell you one pill can kill, it can," said Rosalinda Zepeda, who lost her 20-year-old daughter Athena after she mistook a prescription pill for one that killed her.
"Turns out it wasn't Xanax, it was a pill laced with heroin and fentanyl and she had no idea," said Zepeda. She shared her story during during Saturday's event.
Beyond Take Back Day, unneeded medications can be disposed of at close to 15,000 pharmacies, hospitals, and businesses prescription disposal locations. In addition, many police departments provide year-round drop boxes.
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