Thursday, May 17, 2018

New law to encourage safe disposal of unused painkillers takes effect in July; similar initiatives across state are already in motion

A new law to encourage the safe disposal of unused painkillers, and to make it easier to do so properly will take effect in mid-July.

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr
Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, with only one senator, Sen.Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, voting against the final version. Gov. Matt Bevin allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

The new law will require pharmacists to tell customers how to safely dispose of unused opioids and other controlled substances, and either provide or offer to sell them a product designed to neutralize drugs for disposal -- or provide on-site disposal.

Kerr told Kentucky Health News in March that shifting to a mindset of immediately getting rid of any unused pain medications will require a "cultural shift," much like when we had to learn to put our seat-belts on: "It took us a while."

The law adds to several other efforts to decrease the misuse of prescription drugs in the state, Michon Lindstrom reports for Spectrum News.

In August, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced creation of a pilot program called the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program to provide drug deactivation pouches to people living in Floyd, Henderson, McCracken and Perry counties -- four that have struggled with opioid addiction.

And in March, he announced a partnership with CVS Health to launch a new medication-disposal program that involved the placement of in-store disposal units in nine of the company's 24-hour pharmacies. Click here for a list of the CVS locations with medication deposit boxes.

While announcing the CVS partnership, Lindstrom reported that Beshear said most heroin addiction begins with an addiction to opioids.

“That’s pretty profound,” said Beshear. “What that tells us is that 80 percent of people using heroin right now didn’t go out and actively make the decision to buy a street level drug until they were already actively addicted. For 70 percent of the people out there abusing prescription pills, they aren’t their pills, they are from a friend or family member. It tells us that the most dangerous place in each and everyone of our homes, the most likely place to cause addiction in our kids and our grandkids, is the medicine cabinet.”

Reps. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, and Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, also introduced an initiative called the Spring Clean Northern Kentucky in March 2017 that brought safe drug disposal pouches to more than 30 locations in Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties.

While presenting the initiative, Lindstrom reports that Wuchner and Moser stressed the importance of removing un-used drugs from the house to prevent others from misusing the medication and forming an addiction.

“These are potentially dangerous, they are dangerous when they are used and abused and the fact that we have medications that are still unused in our medicine cabinets, especially opioids we are at risk for a neighbor, for a visiting child, for a visiting young person, for our own children to get their hands on those medications.” said Wucher.

“It is important to reduce the supply of controlled substances, especially on the street, and that does start with getting them out of the medicine cabinets and really educating our families about exactly what it is they can do,” said Moser.

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