Colorado Leads in Prescription Take-Back Sweepstakes

By Dirk Hanson 05/12/11

Who was the biggest collector of unwanted pills? So far it looks like Colorado vs. Massachusetts.

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Returns are still coming in.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

If you’re the kind that wants your election-night returns to be early and unambiguous, this will be disappointing: While state tallies for the “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day" on April 30 are still coming in, the early results preclude us from awarding the title yet. Overall, the DEA said that last Saturday's collection at more than 5,300 sites brought in a total of 188 tons of unwanted medicines--55 percent more than last year’s take-back day. Still, we would be remiss if we didn’t disclose that early counts appear to show a dark-horse Colorado upsetting perennial heavyweight Massachusetts for total pounds of unused medications collected. While residents of Massachusetts confidently declared victory with a total of 12,354 pounds of discarded medications, at press time Colorado newspapers were reporting that the state’s collection sites had amassed a truly scary pile of prescription drugs weighing in at 14,114 pounds. Maine, a surprise contender, may end up with the bronze medal, having collecting 11,920 pounds of drugs, according to DEA numbers for the state. Not to be outdone, Maine officials looked on the bright side, hit their calculators, and declared that Maine was number one… in amount of drugs turned in per capita. Way to skewer ‘em with stats, Maine. Finally, it looks like the state of Virginia may finish just out of the money with 9,500 pounds of drugs collected.

Of course, all of this could be overturned in the final analysis, and who knows, the matter may end up going all the way to the Supreme Court: No final numbers yet from megaplayers California, Texas, New York--or Florida.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]