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Event provides safe way to dispose of prescription medications

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Oct 12, 2021

arinahabich - stock.adobe.com

Prescription pills in yellow bottles on a white background.

OGDEN – If you have unused medicine sitting around the house, you may not realize its potential danger, especially if the drug is a controlled substance such as an opioid or sedative.

On Oct. 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ogden Regional Medical Center and the Ogden Police Department are hosting Crush the Crisis in conjunction with the national Drug Enforcement Agency’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The public is encouraged to take all unused prescription medication and dispose of it at any of the authorized drop-off sites.

“Controlled substances are not safe to have in the home,” said Rob Johnston, clinical manager of the pharmacy at Ogden Regional Medical Center. “People can mistake them for regular medications, kids can get into them or they can be stolen. Leaving them around the house is dangerous and has been shown to be a real problem.”

According to the Utah Department of Health, five Utahns die every week from opioid overdose, whether intentional or accidental. Nationally, 70,630 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2019. In addition, the DEA reported 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers and sedatives in 2019. The majority of prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Many of these overdoses stem from stolen or lost prescriptions, and some leftover drugs are even taken by drug dealers and laced with even more dangerous substances.

Earlier this month, the DEA arrested over 800 people and seized 1.8 million fake pills, mostly laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 100 times more potent than morphine. The drugs seized had enough fentanyl to kill over 700,000 Americans.

“There are people out there who make fake tablets that look exactly like a legitimate tablet from the manufacturer, so someone will buy them off the street not realizing they’re laced with other things such as fentanyl, which is a very powerful opioid,” Johnston said. “But it’s more about the dosage in these tablets. People have no clue what the dosage is or how it’s laced. One pill could have 50 micrograms and the next can have 200 and that can be catastrophic.”

Any medication can be anonymously taken to the drop-off sites, Johnston said. Officials will take the medicine and seal it in a container where it will then be taken to an incinerator.

Johnston said if you can’t make it to one of the drop-off sites, there are other ways to dispose of your medication, but he stressed that it’s not a good idea to flush your medication or put it into the garbage disposal unless explicitly directed on the bottle.

“There has been a lot of research and monitoring in the waste water where they are finding a fair number of drugs because not all of it gets filtered out,” he said.

Last year during the event, Ogden Regional took in approximately 70 pounds of expired or unused medication. The hospital’s corporation, HCA, took in 13,523 pounds and the DEA reported taking in 985,392 pounds.

Any medication can be taken to the drop-off with the exception of liquids and needles.

For a full list of Utah drop-off locations, go to takebackday.dea.gov and click on the location site.


WHERE TO GO

Ogden Regional Medical Center

5475 S. 500 East

East parking lot near the entrance.

Weber County Sheriff’s Office Lobby

721 W. 12th St., Ogden

Farr West City Office

1896 N. 1800 West

Marriott-Slaterville City Office

1195 W. 400 North

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