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DrugTakeback2016Participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day today, Saturday, April 30 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and you could save a life.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day was established in 2010 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to help reduce prescription drug risks and encourage safety. Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of unused or unwanted prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the DEA and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take-Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds – more than 2,750 tons – of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), opioid overdose deaths reached record levels in 2014. A CDC press release reported that 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014, which was a 14% increase over the previous year.

Everyone must be accountable for the medications they are prescribed. As providers, we need to educate our patients about the options for safe disposal of unused and unwanted medications. And National Drug Take Back Day is one of them. Pain and other symptoms requiring prescriptions are often resolved before the entire prescription is used. More often than not a large proportion of those medications end up in the medicine cabinet or the kitchen drawer.

As claims examiners, nurses, pharmacists and physicians, it is our duty to promote awareness across the injured population and to care for our consumers, patients and – by extension, their families, friends and communities. Unused medicines sitting at home are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Statistics prove that childproof drug packaging or top cabinet shelves are not enough to protect children and teenagers from an unintentional overdose. Throwing medications in the garbage or flushing them down the toilet is not only unsafe, it also has a negative impact on the environment.

On April 30, various local sites will be set up to collect unused, unwanted or expired medications to provide safe and responsible disposal. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. We encourage you to help increase awareness of this program and take the opportunity to clean up your own medicine cabinet.

To find a collection site near you, use the search tool on the DEA website. You can also contact the DEA’s call center at 800.882.9539 or your local law enforcement agency. Check out the Sedgwick team’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day blab and share a picture with us of your local collection site if you take time today to participate in this life-saving event.

Shanea McKinney, Pharmacist, Sedgwick

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