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[ATG] Zoeller joins DEA and energy-from-waste facility to ensure safe destruction of unwanted Rx meds
Start Date: 4/29/2013 All Day
End Date: 4/29/2013
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) today to thank Covanta Energy Corporation for disposing of Hoosiers’ unwanted medications collected during National Prescription Drug Take Back-Day.

Since 2010, Covanta’s Indianapolis-based energy-from-waste facility has safely destroyed the drugs collected during the Indiana’s take-back day events, free of charge. Covanta’s Rx4Safety program was launched as a direct response to evidence of pollution in waterways and drinking water, and prescription drug abuse. 

“Our common goal is to keep unwanted or expired prescription drugs out of medicine cabinets and out of the hands of Hoosier youth,” Zoeller said. “The partnership between the DEA and Covanta is a win-win for the state and communities in terms of preventing prescription drug abuse and protecting the environment.”

In the five previous take-back events, DEA in conjunction with state, local and tribal law enforcement partners collected more than 2 million pounds (1,018 tons) of prescription medications. Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Dennis Wichern, who’s responsible for DEA’s operations in Indiana, said the agency drops off the collected drugs at Covanta.

“Disposing of pharmaceutical drugs by incineration is a tried and true method which safeguards America for future generations,” Wichern said. “Law enforcement is fortunate to have Covanta Energy as a partner.”

In addition to managing the destruction of these drugs, Covanta uses the collected drugs to create energy. To date, more than 600,000 pounds of drugs have been destroyed under the Rx4Safety program.

“Whether flushed down the toilet, washed down the sink, or thrown into the garbage, medications contaminate surface and groundwater supplies,” said Scott Holkeboer, business manager at Covanta. “Wastewater treatment plants are incapable of filtering out pharmaceuticals, passing it along to communities in their surface and drinking water. Medications that wind up in landfills can also end up in surface and groundwater since the leachate from landfills goes to those same wastewater treatment plants.”

Last year, Zoeller created the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force in-part to examine the state’s needs for prescription take-back programs. One of the task force’s committees, focused on take-back programs, have identified the barriers that have prevented many pharmacies from serving as take back sites and is working to identify creative solutions.

As part of the overall effort to crack down on prescription drug abuse, Zoeller also highlighted efforts by the Indiana General Assembly. Senate Enrolled Act 246 now moves to the governor’s desk and would create certain requirements for clinics that prescribe, dispense or administer controlled substances. The legislature also passed a measure, House Enrolled Act1465, aimed at strengthening the Indiana Scheduled Prescription Electronic Collection of Tracking (INSPECT) database. INSPECT is an online prescription drug monitoring program that helps law enforcement and medical professionals identify overprescribing physicians and patients who may try to obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances.


Contact Information:
Name: Erin Reece
Phone: 317.232.0168
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Attorney General

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