LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, May 15 Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued the following news release:
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauds the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's announcement that 28,020 pounds of medication was collected in Arkansas as part of the 949,046 pounds collected nationwide during the semi-annual Prescription Drug Take Back held on Saturday, April 28.
"By turning in more than 28,000 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications, Arkansans are keeping those drugs away from those who would abuse them," said Attorney General Rutledge. "Arkansas is disproportionately devastated by the ongoing opioid epidemic and while cleaning out medicine cabinets may seem like a small move, it will save countless lives. I appreciate the partnering agencies and law enforcement who repeatedly make Prescription Drug Take Back Day a success, as well as every Arkansan who participated."
"Due to the commitment, dedication, and effort of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Community, its partners, and the multi-agency coalition, and due to excellent participation by Arkansans in all areas of the state, the take back events have been successful above and beyond all expectations," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA-Little Rock District Office Justin King.
According to the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory and Medical Examiner's Office, 401 Arkansans died from drug overdoses in 2016. More than 40 percent of teenagers in Arkansas have tried prescription drugs and more than half of all teens report that it is easy to obtain prescription drugs from their parents' or grandparents' medicine cabinets.
Rutledge partnered on the Prescription Drug Take Back with the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, FBI, Office of the State Drug Director, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and over 130 additional law enforcement and government agencies, community organizations and public health providers.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Days are held twice a year, but year-round drop-off locations can be found on the updated ARTakeBack.org. The Attorney General's Office also partners with local law enforcement to host take back events at mobile offices around the State. Since 2016, 570.8 pounds of prescription drugs have been collected and safely disposed of at Attorney General's Office mobile offices - keeping them out of the hands of children and those with addictions.
Prescription Drug Take Back days are just one step in Rutledge's multi-faceted approach to ending the opioid crisis. Rutledge is also suing the opioid manufacturers who created the crisis in Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act. Last fall Rutledge launched Prescription for Life, a first-in-the-nation educational tool offered at no cost to all high school students in the State to help them understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. To date, it has been launched in 57 schools across 50 counties and reached over 6,000 students with an additional 24 schools committed to launch the program this fall. Each year, Rutledge partners with a number of agencies in hosting the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit, a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators.