The fifth annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will happen Saturday, Sept. 29, but Kaiser Permanente has already beat the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to the punch. They’ve collected more than 100 pounds of prescription drugs on Maui, Hawaii Island and Oahu at their clinics this past spring. This was the first time Kaiser executed a take-back campaign.
“Many people also don’t realize that improperly disposing of unwanted medications–flushing them down toilets or throwing them in the trash–contributes to water and land contamination,” says Barbara Kashiwabara, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii’s Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services.
Kaiser’s initiative is limited to when they can partner with state and federal agencies because of the laws involved, but they say they will continue to hold these when federal narcotics partners are available. The idea is to reduce and prevent prescription drug abuse and poison-related deaths at a time when pharmaceuticals are increasing.
“Prescription drug use continues to grow, especially since there have been many new ‘innovator’ drugs over the last 20 years–drugs that our parents and grandparents could not have even imagined–resulting in longevity, cures for old diseases, and in some cases, improvements in health care prevention and lifestyle,” says Kawashibara. “Because of all the new drugs, the practice of pharmacy has changed dramatically. Registered Pharmacists are key members of a health care team and are essential for ensuring safe access to medications, avoiding or minimizing drug-drug interactions and side effects, helping to make drugs affordable, and ensuring safe and effective use by monitoring the drug’s use.”
If you have leftover prescription drugs, follow the FDA recommendations on their website or stay tuned for take-back days. Kawashibara emphasized that safe storage and disposal “ensures the drugs are used as intended and don’t get into the wrong hands.”
On the Antidrug.com a site that tracks statistics of teen abuse of prescription drugs, “Every day 2,500 youth age 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the very first time. More teens abuse prescription drugs than any illicit drug except marijuana. In 2008, more than 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 reported abusing prescription drugs. Among 12- and 13-year-olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice.”
Kaiser officials say that on Maui they collected 47.76 pounds compared to Oahu’s 50.64 pounds of drugs from April 23 to 24. On Saturday, Sept. 29, you can visit the DEA in the Maui Police Department parking lot at 55 Mahalani St. in Wailuku to turn in any unused or expired prescription medication.