FACT CHECK: Did The Trump Admin Dispose Of A Record Number Of Prescription Drugs?

David Sivak | Fact Check Editor

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed on CNN that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) collected a record number of unused or expired pills during National Take Back Day on April 28.

Verdict: True

A record number of prescription drugs were collected, a DEA spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation. President Donald Trump tweeted out that law enforcement disposed of nearly 1 million pounds of medication.

Fact Check:

During a heated exchange Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper doggedly questioned Conway about Trump’s relationship with the truth. “Does his job include lying to the American people?” asked Tapper.

“Respectfully, you just want that to go viral,” replied Conway.

She proceeded to rattle off recent accomplishments by the Trump administration. Among them, Conway pointed to actions taken to combat the opioid crisis.

“When he stood up a week ago and said, guys, Sunday – America, Saturday is National Take Back Day, bring in your unused, expired or unwanted pills, and we collected a record number,” she said of Trump. “You can fill up three Boeing 757s with the pills.”

The DEA coordinates with law enforcement partners across the country to set up collection sites once or twice a year where Americans can dispose of unused prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous.

The latest drive was held on April 28, but the agency has not yet reported the results publicly.

Ahead of the collection day, the DEA sent out a press release stating that it aimed to set a new record. If Conway’s claim is true, then she broke news on CNN and the agency met its goal.

The DEA declined to provide TheDCNF with specifics, but a spokesperson confirmed that Conway was accurate – the latest drive set a record.

After TheDCNF reached out to the White House, Trump tweeted out the results.

“National Prescription Drug #TakeBackDay numbers are in! Another record broken: nearly 1 MILLION pounds of Rx pills disposed!” tweeted Trump. “Let’s keep fighting this opioid epidemic, America!”

An official release by the DEA will follow.

Several states have already announced official tallies, including Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

“Here’s what it looks like inside each box,” Brad Schimel, Wisconsin’s attorney general tweeted.

The Trump administration set two consecutive records last year when it collected 900,000 pounds and 912,000 pounds of prescription pills.

“National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events continue to remove ever-higher amounts of opioids and other medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens,” the DEA said after the last collection day in October.

Law enforcement in California, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois and New York collected the most drugs.

These numbers have grown ever since National Take Back Days started in 2010; the first drive collected 242,000 pounds of medication. An estimated 10 million pounds have been disposed of to date.

The DEA began the drives because Americans had no legal way to dispose of prescription drugs other than handing them over to police. “Most people flushed their unused prescription drugs down the toilet, threw them in the trash, or kept them in the household medicine cabinet, resulting in contamination of the water supply and the theft and abuse of the prescription drugs,” reads a DEA press release.

Congress passed a law and regulations were put in place for authorized collectors to accept unused pills. Yet the collection days were so successful that the DEA continued to schedule them. The events on April 28 marked the 15th such collection day.

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place,” Trump said in August. “If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem.”

The Trump administration declared opioid abuse and drug addiction to be a National Public Health Emergency in October.

In 2016, 11.5 million Americans aged 12 years and older misused prescription pain relievers.

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David Sivak

Fact Check Editor
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