Governor Steve Beshear called on all Kentuckians to clear out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of old medications through a national prescription drug take-back program. Drug policy officials, law enforcement representatives and health care professionals announced this morning that Kentucky will take part in the national program to safely dispose of unused or expired medications.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will be held Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at locations throughout the state. For locations, visit: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.
"Prescription drug abuse is the most urgent substance abuse issue facing Kentucky -- one that kills nearly three Kentuckians every day -- and we know that number is woefully underreported," Gov. Beshear said. "We can't stress enough that medications, once they are no longer needed for their prescribed purposes, should be disposed of properly to reduce their risk of being diverted and abused."
State and local officials made the announcement at the Franklin County Public Health Center in Frankfort.
Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, noted that a 2009 national survey on drug use and health indicated most people accessed prescription pain relievers through someone they knew. Among people age 12 or older who reported using pain relievers non-medically in the past year, 70 percent got the drugs from a friend or relative (either for free, purchased, or by theft).
Only about 5 percent reported obtaining pain relievers from a drug dealer or other stranger, and less than half of one-percent bought the drugs on the Internet.
"By holding on to old and unneeded prescriptions, we're unwittingly turning our medicine cabinets into the main source of drugs for addicts and abusers," Ingram said.
Law enforcement officials said the proper disposal of unused medications is another way to begin tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse.
House Bill 1 (HB 1), the prescription drug abuse bill passed in last week's special session of the General Assembly, will make significant improvements in the fight against prescription drug abuse. HB 1 establishes criteria for owners of pain clinics and institutes use of the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) as a universal screening tool for prescribers. The bill also joins KASPER to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Prescription Monitoring Program InterConnect (PMP InterConnect), which links participating states' monitoring programs to provide a more effective means of combating drug diversion and drug abuse nationwide.
Health care and law enforcement officials praised the program as an important public health and safety effort.
"We are pleased to join with the Frankfort Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration in this worthwhile crime prevention program," said Paula Alexander, director of the Franklin County Health Department. "This is a great example of a health department joining with law enforcement to get unused prescription medications out of homes and disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. This program was recently recognized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as a promising practice that may be duplicated in other jurisdictions nationally."
"For the past two years we have partnered with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the Franklin County Health Department in a drug take back program," Frankfort Police Chief Walter Wilhoite said. "This program's mission is to assist in removing unwanted, unused or otherwise dangerous drugs from our community and thus reducing the potential for medication abuse and misuse. Since this program began, we have collected and disposed of, in a safe, legal and environmentally conscious manner, approximately a quarter of a million tablets, capsules and medication doses. We have been pleased with this program's success and its role of helping us to achieve a safer Frankfort."
In total, the three previous DEA drug take-back programs have removed almost 500 tons of unwanted or expired medications from circulation.