Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why is a medicine return program needed in King County?

First some background information about the problem of prescription drug abuse.

Hospitalizations continue to increase
According to the Washington State Department of Health, hospitalizations for prescription painkiller overdoses continue to rise in our state

CDC says the problem is epidemic
This is a national problem, as well.  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP):

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of some illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug non-medically.

Some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and dispensed by a pharmacist. Addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic is not only a top priority for public health, it will also help build stronger communities and allow those with substance abuse disorders to lead healthier, more productive lives.

ONDCP's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan
The national 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan includes action in four major areas to reduce prescription drug abuse:

1. Education. A crucial first step in tackling the problem of prescription drug abuse is to educate parents, youth, and patients about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, while requiring prescribers to receive education on the appropriate and safe use, and proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs.

2. Monitoring. Implement prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) in every state to reduce “doctor shopping” and diversion, and enhance PDMPs to make sure they can share data across states and are used by healthcare providers.

3. Enforcement. Provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to eliminate improper prescribing practices and stop pill mills.

4. Proper Medication Disposal. Develop convenient and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in the home.

Are these things going on locally?
In King County, the first three strategies are in place either through local community activities or the implementation of the prescription monitoring program in our state.

What’s missing?

An ongoing medication disposal program. But King County can change that. 

On May 16, the King County Board of Health is holding a public hearing about proposed policy to start a permanent medicine return program countywide.  See yesterday's post for more information. 

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