Prescription medications play an important role in the health of millions of Americans.
However, expired medications or unused drugs often remain in cabinets for months or years. These expired drugs can pose health hazards to toddlers, teens and even pets who may inadvertently consume them. In fact, some medications are so potent that even one dose could be fatal if accidentally ingested.
There are also other important safety issues. The largest of which is misuse of prescription narcotic drugs, or opioids. This major, nationwide public health concern has been widely reported by media and warrants additional attention.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 (67.8% of all drug overdose deaths).
A recent U.S. government report also found:Up to 70 percent of opioids prescribed for pain relief after surgery go unused
Three in five teens say prescription pain medications are easy to get from their parents’ medicine cabinet
And every 10 minutes a child visits an emergency room for medication poisoning
In light of the national opioid epidemic, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s “Take-Back” initiative is one of several strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion. As part of this nationwide education and safe disposal work, communities around the country have been teaming up with law enforcement to host National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
Locally, Virginia Mason Federal Way Medical Center (33501 First Way South) is hosting a Drug Take-Back Day Event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
The disposal service is free and anonymous for consumers, with no questions asked. Medical professionals will be on site to answer questions about the Drug Take Back program.
Accepted items include all over-the-counter or prescribed pills, capsules or liquids, including: ADHD medications, Ambien, Antidepressants, Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin), Klonopin, Morphine, Muscle relaxants, Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), Tramadol (Ultram), Valium, and Xanax.
Items not accepted include: Chemotherapy medications, Illegal drugs, Intravenous solutions, Syringes, or Epinephrine injectors.
Since city, county and state officials are focusing much of their collective efforts on harm reduction, it has given nonprofit medical providers – like Virginia Mason – the chance to focus on prevention.
Since we are a source for legally prescribed opioids, Virginia Mason is tackling opioid management in our hospitals and regional medical centers.
By hosting a take-back event, we aim to engage the Greater Federal Way-area community while providing support for legal, safe and environmentally friendly reduction of opioids to help improve the health and safety of area residents.
“Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands, which is dangerous and often tragic. That is why it’s been great to see thousands of folks from across the country clean out their medicine cabinets and turn in a record amount of prescription drugs on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Our first-year event in October 2018 collected 408 pounds of medications. This simple act is safe, anonymous and the responsible thing to do,” said Virginia Mason anesthesiologist Julie Vath, MD, who is heading up this event for the second straight year.
Partner organizations supporting the Drug Take Back Event include United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Way Police Department, South King Fire and Rescue, City of Federal Way, Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, Federal Way Public Schools and the Federal Way Mirror.
For more information, including a collection site locator, visit takebackday.dea.gov.