Spring Clean Northern Kentucky initiative encourages safe disposal of unused prescription drugs

03/23/2017 03:06 PM

BURLINGTON – An initiative in northern Kentucky is going to make it easier for residents to safely dispose of any expired or unneeded medications, especially opioid pain medication and other narcotics, to help prevent misuse, abuse or addiction.

Spring Clean Northern Kentucky was introduced on Thursday by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, and Rep. Kim Moser, R-Independence, in an effort to encourage residents to go through their medicine cabinets and throw-away medications no longer need.

In addition, lawmaker and advocates called on individuals to keep prescription drugs in a locked cabinet so no one except the person whom the medication is prescribed has access to it.

The program calls for distributing 6,000 drug disposal pouches in Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties at more than 30 locations, including all Kroger pharmacies in northern Kentucky.

Distribution of the drug disposal pouches in northern Kentucky is a collaborative effort among several groups, including Wuchner and Moser, along with county drug coalitions, law enforcement, the Northern Kentucky health Department, senior services, Kroger and other local pharmacies.

By using the pouches, individuals can safely dispose of medications at home.

“No one first begins by sticking a heroin needle into their arm,” Wuchner said. “It often begins in the medicine cabinet right there in our very homes.”

The drug disposal pouches were donated by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and use patented technology to neutralize the active ingredients in opioid painkillers and other drugs in pill, liquid and transdermal patch forms. A proprietary activated carbon bonds to pharmaceutical compounds when water is added, rendering the drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in any setting, including the home.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Director of Government Affairs and advocacy Kevin Webb says data shows that 78 percent of diversion, or incidents where prescription medicines are taken by someone for whom it is not prescribed, begins in the homes medicine cabinet.

“These pouches will chemically neutralize and inactivate these medications within 30 seconds,” Webb said. “They’re environmentally friendly and are safe and easy way to dispose of these at home.”

Josh, a recovering addict who overdosed on heroin and carfentanil back in September, said that he is a prime example of a person who became addicted to opiods by raiding medicine cabinets.

“My story didn’t start with me doing heroin on the streets, my journey did start in the medicine cabinet,” Josh said. “I started off rooting through the medicine cabinet and it just sort of progressed from there.”

Access to prescription pain killers has been tied to future heroin use.

Research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.

Moser, a registered nurse and director of the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, sees the pouch initiative as another tool in the regional heroin response.

“It is important to reduce the supply of controlled substances, especially on the street, and that does start with getting them out of the medicine cabinets and really educating our families about exactly what it is they can do,” Moser said.

In addition to the drug disposal pouches, medications can also be safely disposed of using the 16 drop boxes located in police and sheriff’s offices throughout northern Kentucky.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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