For the first time ever, Louisianans can dispose of their vaping and e-cigarette devices and cartridges during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 26. The event allows people to safely and responsibly dispose of their unused medications at designated collection sites including first responders, medical offices and businesses.

Twice a year, Take Back Day gathers thousands of pounds of prescription drugs and helps to prevent drug abuse and misuse across the United States. Louisiana hosted 131 collection sites during two Drug Enforcement Agency sponsored Take Back Days in 2018, collecting 8,415 of unused and expired medications statewide.

This year’s addition of vaping devices and cartridges to Take Back Day comes amidst a national outbreak of lung injury associated with such products. As of October 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 1,479 cases and 33 deaths nationwide. In Louisiana, there have been 25 cases associated with this outbreak. All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette or vaping products. The specific cause of the injuries is still under investigation.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health are encouraging Louisianans to participate in Take Back Day in support of the state’s ongoing efforts to end its burgeoning opioid crisis. More than 450 Louisianans died of opioid involved overdoses in 2018, a 13.5% increase from 2017, the highest year on record.

Strategies to reduce the impact of the opioid crisis in Louisiana:

  • The Opioid Help LA awareness and education campaign aims to direct people with an opioid addiction and/or their families, friends and loved ones to appropriate treatment resources. A dedicated website at org lists addiction and recovery resources, including those covered by Medicaid, and contact information.
  • Through legislation and changes in Medicaid policy, limits have been put in place on the number of days for opioid prescriptions and limited doses.
  • The Department of Health works with the Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Council to ensure statewide partners are included to address the opioid crisis, recognizing that all agencies in law enforcement, hospital settings, universities, professional organizations, youth-focused groups, parent groups, advocacy groups and community partners at all levels are critical partners.
  • Efforts to address prevention education and outreach have been made, providing referrals to treatment, providing evidence-based assessments to place clients into the appropriate level of care or recovery support services, and education on medication-assisted treatment.
  • Naloxone education and distribution are a top priority. Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reduce opioid overdose and is available in Louisiana through a standing order issued by Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee. The standing order allows participating pharmacists to dispense naloxone to people including caregivers, family and friends of an opioid user.
  • The Department of Health has issued a voluntary opioid refusal formthrough which Louisianans may pledge to refuse the offer or administration of opioid medications from their healthcare practitioner or attending physician. The form, which also must be signed by the healthcare practitioner and goes into the patient’s medical file, releases healthcare providers, their administration and personnel from responsibility for the consequences of the patient’s opioid refusal.

To safely dispose of vaping products and unused and expired medications:

  • Find a safe collection site at https://takebackday.dea.gov.
  • Drop off medications at a participating CVS or Walgreens location.
  • Visit the National Safety Council at org/TakeBack to order a free, safe disposal envelope.

Flushing and throwing away medications are unsafe methods of disposal. CVS, Costco and RiteAid pharmacies sell postage-paid envelopes for customers to mail any prescription, including opioids and over-the-counter medications, to a disposal facility.