The epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose, largely a result of prescription painkillers, is still one of the country’s most pressing issues, though it might not always be in the headlines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that of the more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017 alone, 68 percent involved an opioid.
One reason the opioid epidemic continues to spike is improper disposal of prescription medications.
A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that 66 percent of people keep leftover, unused medications around the household even after they’ve stopped using them. It’s important to properly dispose of prescription medications.
Deactivated Drugs are Neutralized and Safe for Disposal
There is now at least one company making it easier for people to dispose of their prescription medications, from opioid painkillers to antibiotics, in a convenient, safe and environmentally sound way.
The Deterra Drug Deactivation System, developed by Minnesota based Verde Technologies, neutralizes prescription meds, like opioids, in biodegradable bags that cost anywhere from $5 to $7 each.
The Deterra deactivation bags address three serious issues that leftover medications create, such as the following:
1. Community Health Improvement
Providing a low cost and convenient method for proper prescription drug disposal can improve the overall health of communities across the country by cutting down on the misuse and abuse of leftover medications.
Because the deactivation pouches are inexpensive, insurance companies could cover the cost of a pouch with each opioid prescription a patient receives.
2. Increases Public Safety
Surplus medications disposed of in deactivation bags are rendered chemically inert, eliminating the opportunity for family members, friends or thieves to steal leftover opioids from the medicine cabinet.
They also eliminate the chance of accidental poisoning of family pets or those in the neighborhood that dig through trash receptacles.
Law enforcement agencies might consider passing out the bags in neighborhoods struggling with opioid addiction.
3. Environmentally Safe
Improper disposal of prescription medications damages the environment when they end up in landfills or are flushed down toilets.
Over time, these chemicals deteriorate, and inevitably wind up in lakes, rivers, landfills, and other sources of drinking water.
How Do Deterra’s Drug Deactivation Bags Work?
The science behind Verde Technologies’ drug disposal pouches is relatively simple to understand. The company’s patented molecular adsorption technology employs activated carbon to neutralize prescription medications.
Unwanted, leftover prescription pills and liquids are placed into the pouch, followed by warm water, which kick starts the drug deactivation system.
After sealing the bag, it can simply be tossed in the trash, where after it reaches the landfill it will naturally biodegrade, turning the entire product, along with everything inside of it, into water and carbon dioxide.
Public awareness about the dangers of leftover prescription medications, especially opioids, lingering in home medicine cabinets is on the rise.
Google reported that searches for “medication disposal near me” were at an all time high in January 2019.
While Google Maps is now showing users where they can dispose of their medications, and events like National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day offer another alternative, there is still a lack of convenience in having to gather, in some cases, years worth of medications to take to a somewhere that may or may not be nearby.
The Deterra Drug Deactivation Bags solve the big issue of inconvenience and even affordability.
Proper prescription drug disposal is a key element in fighting the opioid epidemic and responsible people will no doubt take full advantage of drug deactivation pouches.
It’s vital, however, that insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and advocacy organizations provide this low cost solution to such a high cost problem.
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