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Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, April 26

4/24/2014

Miriam Hospital to accept unused or expired medications; Newport Hospital pharmacists, Emergency Department clinicians to be available at Newport, Portsmouth Police Departments to answer consumer questions


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Drug Take-Back Day: A Q&A with Jason Hack, MD

Hack, director of medical toxicology at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital and an emergency department physician, answered some questions about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

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On Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Rhode Islanders will have the opportunity to turn in expired, unused or unwanted medications during the eighth annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. By enabling individuals to safely discard prescription drugs they have in the home, Take-Back Day provides a convenient, responsible way to properly dispose of potentially hazardous medications while educating the public about the potential for medication abuse.

The national program, led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is free and anonymous. Since its inception in 2010, 3.4 million pounds – over 1,700 tons – of pills have been removed from circulation. Last October, Americans dropped off 324 tons, or more than 647 pounds, of prescription drugs at over 4,000 sites around the country.

Working in conjunction with Providence Mayor Angel Taveras’ Substance Abuse Prevention Council, The Miriam is one of nearly 40 secure drop-off sites participating in Drug Take-Back Day in Rhode Island. Newport Hospital is getting involved by making pharmacists and Emergency Department clinicians available at the Newport and Portsmouth police departments to answer questions the public may have. Participants include: Bart Grimes, MS, RPh; Paul Parchesky, RPh; Dennis Reid, RPh; Glenn Hebel, MD; Charles Stengel, MD; Nancy Costello, RN; and Nancy Wilcox, RN.

Medicines that remain in cabinets in the home are prone to diversion, misuse and abuse – and previously accepted methods for throwing out unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – pose potential safety and health hazards. In the U.S., rates of prescription drug abuse, accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs are high, and studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Many Lifespan clinicians have been active in the public arena to speak about the negative consequences of drug abuse, both prescription medications and illegal drugs, such as heroin. So far in 2014, 85 people in R.I. have died of unintentional drug overdose. Among those Lifespan clinicians and researchers speaking publicly about this epidemic through community forums or the media are: Jason Hack, MD, director of medical toxicology at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital and an emergency department physician; Josiah Rich, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at The Miriam Hospital; Traci Green, PhD, MSc, an epidemiologist at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rhode Island Hospital and also affiliated with The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights; and Michelle McKenzie, MPH, director, Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention at The Miriam Hospital.

Drug Take-Back Day locations, which also include R.I. Walgreens and the Providence Public Safety Complex, will accept pills or patches, but not liquids, needles or sharps. For a full list of participating police departments and sites, go to www.dea.gov. Inquiries can also be made by contacting the DEA call center at 1-800-882-9539.