CHICAGO — The nation’s doctors are urging their patients to participate in Saturday’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day by checking their medicine cabinets and taking unused and expired medicine to one of the thousands of drop-off sites.

“Physicians should talk to their patients about what medicines are in their homes and what steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of medicines falling into the wrong hands. All of us have a role in preventing drug addiction and overdose,” said American Medical Association President-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “We all should channel Marie Kondo when looking at unused, unwanted and expired prescription medications.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration website and Google have locators for the closest sites to where patients live. Last year, the DEA reported that there were 5,839 collection sites and 457 tons (914,236 pounds) of prescriptions were turned in.

The AMA is also reminding physicians of the recommendations developed by the AMA Opioid Task Force to help them educate their patients on the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription opioids. These recommendations are part of the task force’s ongoing efforts to empower and enable physicians to take steps that can help reverse the opioid epidemic. More information can be found at www.end-opioid-epidemic.org/storage-and-disposal.

“From our studies of the opioid epidemic, we know that more than 60 percent of people misusing opioids are getting them from family and friends. This is extremely dangerous and contributes to opioid-related overdose deaths in communities across the country. We need to make our homes safe, and the best way is for patients to turn in unused opioids as well as all their unused prescription medications,” Harris said.

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Editor’s note: More than 25 national, state, specialty and other health care associations joined the AMA Opioid Task Force in 2014 to coordinate efforts within organized medicine to help end the nation’s opioid epidemic. Additional information on the AMA Opioid Task Force is available at end-opioid-epidemic.org, including Task Force recommendations and an annual progress report. Real-time updates on the AMA’s work on opioids are available on our  website.

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Jack Deutsch

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