Kentuckians Urged to Dispose of Medications Safely

Apr 23, 2012

Gov. Steve Beshear Monday encouraged Kentuckians to clear out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of old medications through a national prescription drug take-back program. The Drug Enforcement Administration National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time at locations throughout the state on Saturday, April 28.

Take-back locations include all 16 state police posts in Kentucky, as well as sheriff's departments in Ohio, Bracken, Oldham, Trigg, McLean, Taylor, Adair, Boyle, Pendleton, Scott, Carter, Green, Mercer, LaRue, Anderson, Marion, Grayson, Hancock, Jefferson, Mason, Russell, Warren, Spencer and Woodford counties.

In addition, police departments in these cities will participate in the program: Ashland, Bowling Green, Cadiz, Danville, Eddyville, Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Fulton, Tompkinsville, Georgetown, Greensburg, Lexington, Hurstborne Acres, Louisville, Maysville, Morehead, Nicholasville, Paducah, Paris, Radcliff, Taylorsville and West Point.

“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,” Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “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, of the state Office of Drug Control Policy, noted that a 2009 national survey on drug use and health showed most people 12 and older got prescription pain relievers through someone they knew - either for free, or they bought them or they stole them.

Only about 5 percent reported obtaining pain relievers from a drug dealer or other stranger, and less than half of 1 per cent 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, 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 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, 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.

In total, the three previous DEA drug take-back programs have removed almost 500 tons of unwanted or expired medications from circulation.