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Massachusetts officials promote drug take-back day

April 7, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Mayor Martin J. Walsh and members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation urged residents Monday to take part in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day later this month.

The national effort, set for April 26, encourages people to get rid of unused prescription drugs at local police departments and other designated drop-off sites. The politicians said prescription drugs left in family medicine cabinets are one of the easiest gateways to drug addiction.

“This is one way to reduce access to prescription drugs. By itself, it’s not going to fix the problem,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at City Hall. “But we fix what we can.”

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey said prescription drug overdose is among the leading causes of death in Massachusetts, exceeding motor vehicle accidents and homicides, according to recent data. The state, he added, saw roughly 600 drug overdose deaths in 2009, up from about 300 in 1999.

“A packet of heroin is as cheap as a six-pack of beer and it is as easy to get as a pack of gum,” Markey said. “It’s a plague in all of the communities of the commonwealth.”

In March, Gov. Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency in response to the state’s growing epidemic of heroin to ban the prescription painkiller Zohydro, which officials fear could exacerbate the addiction rate.

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