Say you got a root canal a few years ago, and you still have more than half your pain prescription sitting in your medicine cabinet. Any visitor to your house could swallow a few or pocket them to sell.
To prevent this, Inspira Health Network will give out 50,000 medication-disposal pouches to patients, their families and social service agencies.
The Deterra pouches have activated charcoal inside. You open the bag, throw your old medication inside, and then, “fill it half full with warm water. You zip it back up, and you wait 30y seconds, and then the efficacy of all the drugs that’s in those various forms is cancelled out. Then it’s very safe to just toss in the trash,” explained Carolyn Heckman, the vice president of community relations at Inspira Health Network.
The pouches will be especially useful for people with kids, grandkids or just frequent visitors, said Heckman.
“You don’t know who’s going in there and saying, ‘Oh, I don’t want to take this myself, but I can take this to school and get 15 bucks for each tablet,”‘ she said.
Through a community-needs assessment, her organization and others in South Jersey zeroed in on high rates of substance abuse as a chronic problem in that region.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy found 5 percent of prescription-drug abusers obtained their drugs without asking from friends or family between 2009 and 2010. But Heckman said getting rid of old medicine isn’t a silver bullet.
“This is just a tool to help get drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets that they no longer need and disposed of in an environmentally safe way,” she explained.
Inspira plans to distribute the bags, which retail for about $7 online, in a targeted way. It will keep 25,000 for medical settings, such as emergency rooms, and will gradually give out the rest at no charge to 48 member agencies.