By Maggie Thurber | Special to Ohio Watchdog
COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health has developed a program, which allows people to dispose of the unused portion of their prescription for an illness or injury properly.
The timely disposal of unused medication is a serious issue in the Buckeye State, according to DOH. In 2010, two-thirds of those who were prescribed prescription pain medication had some leftover, of those 69 percent of Ohioans kept the leftover medication, while only 29 percent disposed of it.
The remaining 2 percent gave the medication to someone else or sold it.
Enter the Ohio Prescription Drug Drop Box Program, which Attorney General Mike DeWine describes as a “new tool” for local law enforcement in the fight against prescription drug abuse.
DeWine, partnering with the Drug Free Action Alliance and DOH, has invited law enforcement agencies in southern Ohio to join the pilot program, which will provide approximately 75 drop boxes and at least three incinerators to destroy the prescriptions.
The Attorney General’s Office is contributing $25,000 for the pilot program, with $15,000 going toward the purchase of 25 boxes and $550 for the signs to be placed on the boxes. The remaining $9,450 will be used to purchase additional boxes or incinerators as demand requires.
DOH also is contributing $25,980 — $15,000 to purchase 25 boxes and $10,980 for the purchase of the incinerators. The Drug Free Action Alliance is providing $15,000 for the purchase of 25 boxes. The drop boxes will be purchased from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.
The drop boxes are secure mailbox-style disposal boxes that can be placed inside law enforcement departments, where residents can deposit their unwanted, expired or unused prescription drugs. Portable drug incinerators will be provided to agencies that can serve as a regional destruction site for the pills collected from other drug drop boxes in the area.
“Even though the entire state is dealing with the problems associated with prescription drug addiction, southern Ohio is by far the epicenter of the abuse,” DeWine said. “By initially focusing our efforts in this area, we will not only help more people, but can also better monitor the success of the program.”
Agencies in the following counties are eligible to apply for the free pilot program: Adams, Athens, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Gallia, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Montgomery, Pickaway, Pike, Preble, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, Warren and Washington.
“We want to make it convenient to get these unused dangerous drugs out of the home, safeguarding the family and decreasing the possibility of the drugs being diverted or misused,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health.
“By limiting the number of drugs that could possibly be stolen, misused or abused, we are potentially saving lives and creating true community change in regards to prescription drug abuse,” said Marcie Seidel, executive director of the Drug Free Action Alliance.