[MMA News Now, Oct. 24, 2013]
Physicians should alert their patients that October is Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and a good time to clear their medicine cabinets of unwanted prescriptions.
“Just by keeping these drugs in your household, you could unknowingly be providing easy access to one of the fastest growing categories of abused substances,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “Prescription drug abuse is rising rapidly, especially among teens. When abused, prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs and often act as gateway drugs to heroin.”
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency will sponsor National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to “provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.”
To find a local event, click here
Countering abuse of prescription drugs is a priority of the State Substance Abuse Strategy
being championed by the Department of Human Services, the Department of Health and several other state agencies.
In December 2012, the MMA convened a physicians-only task force to address the issue of prescription opioid
addiction, abuse and diversion in Minnesota.
Here are some U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines for drug disposal you can share with patients:
• Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
• Take advantage of community drug take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal.
• Contact your local law enforcement agencies about medicine collection programs. Hennepin and Ramsey counties, for example, each have year-round collection sites.
• If no instructions are given on the drug label and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash but first: Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. This mixture will be less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash. Put the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage can.
• When in doubt about proper disposal, talk to your pharmacist.