Lake Stevens JournalLake Stevens Journal

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

Published on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 by BY PAM STEVENS | MANAGING EDITOR

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Have you taken a look at your medicine cabinet lately? I mean really taken a look in there to see if you have unused or outdated prescription drugs just sitting there waiting for someone to get their hands on them?

I know that many of us keep unused prescription drugs around, especially painkillers, just in case we may need them for future use and don’t want to pay for a trip to the doctor’s office.

However, this practice may be hazardous to the health, and maybe even the life, of someone you love.
The Take Back Your Meds organization has been busy in Olympia these past few weeks lobbying with legislators in hopes of passing the Secure Medicine Return Bill (SB 5234) which will be reviewed in the Washington State Senate soon.
The bill would provide the state with the first, permanent drug take back program.

Take Back Your Meds states, “The measure would protect our families and the environment – at no financial cost to the state or taxpayers.”

Many of us end up flushing old meds down the toilet or throw them in our garbage cans. Some even toss them down their sinks.

“That’s when the drugs that are designed to improve our lives, contaminate our water and soil.  The Secure Medicine Return Bill would help reduce both dangers,” Take Back Your Meds tells us.

In Washington, old and unused medicines get into the drug trade and contribute to drug overdoses, the most common cause of accidental death in our communities, superseding car accidents with an average of two deaths per day. We have witnessed some of these deaths right here in Lake Stevens.

Statistics show that more than three out of five teens say painkillers are easy to get from family medicine cabinets. 
“Our medicine cabinets are becoming the new drug dealers. That’s why leaving old, or unused medicines in medicine cabinets can be dangerous,” the organization tells us.

Unfortunately many communities can’t afford to have a continual medication take back program.
TBYM is finding some resistance from pharmaceutical companies because the bill proposes that these companies cover the price of the program at the cost of one penny for every $16 in sales.

“Last year, many people thought the Secure Medicine Return Bill was guaranteed to pass. Instead, lobbyists for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) ran confusing ads that undermined its support,” TBYM said.
PhRMA issued ads saying that the Drug Enforcement Administration recommends putting old medicines in the trash if mixed with coffee grounds. In reality, the DEA’s first choice for drug disposal is secure drug take back programs.
This would be a great time to contact your legislators and let them know how you feel about this bill, before pharmaceutical companies entice them to vote against it once again. 

Passing this bill would even help save the state money by preventing accidental overdoses and poisonings. This alone would save the state over $30 million.

“Each year, Washington state spends $31.7 million to hospitalize and treat children for unintentional poisonings from medicines ($16.2 million), cover emergency room costs for kids who accidentally ingested medications ($9.3 million) and on expenses for children who have overdosed ($6.2 million),” TBYM said. “And, our medicine cabinets are becoming the new drug dealers. The state Department of Health finds Washington has one of the highest rates in the nation of teens using prescription pain medicines to get high.” 

Let’s clean out our medicine cabinets and dispose of those medications properly, by doing this we are keeping our kids, their friends and our environment a little safer.

To learn more about Take Back Your Meds, visit: www.takebackyourmeds.org.

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