Press Release

Stanford Physicians Urge Patients to Turn in Old Pills


Support National Take Back Prescription Drugs Day on Saturday, April 28 

STANFORD, Calif.—In support of National Take Back Prescriptions Drugs Day on Saturday, April 28, physicians in the Pain Management Division at Stanford Hospital & Clinics are urging patients to help prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Doctors are encouraging patients to bring their old medications for disposal at designated "Take Back" collection sites around the Bay Area.

"Storing unwanted prescription drugs at home or disposing of them in the trash or down the toilet may seem harmless, but the reality is that by doing so you could be putting the health of your family at risk and potentially releasing hazardous chemicals into our environment,"
said Sean Mackey, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Pain Management Division at Stanford Hospital and associate professor of anesthesia at Stanford University School of Medicine. "I urge all patients to put safety first by taking their old drugs to their nearest collection site."

Organized by the Drug Enforcement Agency in partnership with state and local law enforcement agencies, the service is free and anonymous—no questions asked. The public can find a nearby collection site by visiting, clicking on the "Got Drugs?" icon and following the links to a database, where they enter their zip code.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.

Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. "Teenagers and young adults are some of the most vulnerable to the dangers of drug abuse", said Meredith Barad, M.D., a Stanford Pain Management physician. "By taking unused prescription drugs out of the medicine cabinets, we are reducing exposure and thereby reducing the risks of addiction."

In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds—188.5 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous Take Back events, the DEA and its partners took in almost 1 million pounds—nearly 500 tons—of pills.

In the Stanford/Palo Alto and surrounding areas, collection sites will be provided on April 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through these local agencies at the following locations:

Agency: East Palo Alto Police Department

Collection Site: Best Buy, 1751 East Bayshore Road, East Palo Alto, CA 94303

Agency: City Of Mountain View Police/Fire Depts.

Collection Site: City Of Mountain View Police/Fire Administration, 1000 Villa Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

Agency: Redwood City Police Department

Collection Site: Redwood City Police Department, 1301 Maple St., Redwood City, CA 94061

Agency: Santa Clara County Sheriff Office

Collection Site: Sheriff's West Valley Substation, 1601 S. De Anza Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014

Media Contact: Linda Apeles, 650-725-6625,

About Stanford Health Care

Stanford Health Care (SHC) seeks to heal humanity through science and compassion one patient at a time, through its commitment to care, educate, and discover.  Across its health system of inpatient care, outpatient health centers, medical groups, health plan offerings, care navigation and virtual care services, Stanford Health Care provides patients with the very best in health and care through its unique leading edge and coordinated care approach.

Stanford Health Care is widely recognized for delivering the highest levels of care and compassion, while also discovering breakthroughs for treating cancer, heart disease, brain disorders, primary care issues, and many other conditions.  Stanford Health Care and its Stanford Hospital, along with Stanford Children’s Health and the Stanford University School of Medicine, are committed to delivering Stanford Medicine excellence to each and every patient and family served.

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