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Archived - The Government of Canada Encourages Canadians to Join the Efforts to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

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April 30, 2015 - Ottawa - Health Canada and Public Safety Canada

Prescription drug abuse is a serious public health and safety issue that impacts individuals, families and communities across Canada. The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, are encouraging all Canadians to participate in National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day on Saturday, May 9, which will be coordinated by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police in communities across Canada.

National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day provides an opportunity for Canadians to drop off their unused and expired prescription medication to local police and community partners at specific locations to ensure safe disposal. This initiative aims to reduce the volume of prescription drugs available for misuse and inform the public of the harms associated with prescription drug abuse. It also reminds Canadians that unused prescription drugs can be returned to local pharmacies for disposal any day of the year.

National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day is one of several ways the Government of Canada is working to combat prescription drug abuse. Last fall, the Government of Canada launched a national marketing campaign which equipped parents with the information and tools needed to talk with their teenagers about the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse and marijuana use, and earlier this year, the Government of Canada also announced an investment of $13.5 million over five years to enhance access to addictions support, prevention and treatment capacity for prescription drug abuse for First Nations living on-reserve across the country.

Quick Facts

  • Through Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government of Canada has committed more than $44 million over five years to expand the scope of the National Anti-Drug Strategy to include measures to address prescription drug abuse.
  • In 2013, 22% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using a psychoactive prescription drug. Of these, 2% (about 146,000) reported abusing the drug for non-medical purposes.
  • According to a 2013 Ontario survey, one in eight youth reported using a prescription opioid drug for non-medical purposes, and approximately 70% said they obtained the drug from home.
  • Nationally, 42% of Canadian police agencies actively participated in the 2014 Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day.
  • Participating agencies reported recovering over 1.5 tons of prescription drugs in the 2014 Drop-Off Day.


“Prescription drugs are designed to help patients who need them, but when used for the wrong reasons, they can cause serious harm, including death. Our Government is committed to addressing this issue head on, and we encourage Canadians to do their part by returning unused or unwanted prescription drugs and supporting this important initiative.”
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

“Prescription drug abuse represents a complex problem that affects communities in many ways; in particular it is a growing problem among Canadian youth. By working with our partners, the Government of Canada is demonstrating our resolve to address the illegal use of prescription drugs and to keep our streets and communities safe.”
Steven Blaney
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“The abuse of prescription drugs can happen in many ways. A few pills leftover from an unfinished opioid prescription may seem harmless, but the reality is, they pose a real risk. Our Government is encouraging Canadians to support this important initiative by taking stock of their medicine cabinets and returning unused prescription drugs to designated collection points on Drop-Off Day and year round.”
John Weston
Member of Parliament, West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country

"On Saturday, May 9, 2015, Canada’s police leaders and their services are asking all Canadians to take a moment and clear out their family medicine cabinets. The rising rates of recreational misuse of prescription drugs by youth, in particular opioids, can lead to addiction and unintended, tragic consequences. We can all play a role in safeguarding our families. Unused and unwanted prescriptions can be dropped off at many police services on this date or at pharmacies throughout the year.”
Chief Clive Weighill
President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

“Canada is the second largest consumer of prescription opioids in the world, and there has been a notable increase in recent years of overdose deaths, emergency room visits and admissions to substance abuse treatment programs because of opioids. National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day provides an opportunity to educate Canadians of the risks and harms of keeping unused medications in their homes, and supports the efforts of pharmacists, law enforcement and community leaders on this important health and safety issue.”
Rita Notarandrea
Chief Executive Officer (interim), Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Associated Links


Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health

Jeremy Laurin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

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