Common Ground: Safe medication disposal


As Kentucky struggles to deal with the growing opiate epidemic in the state—lawmakers are scrambling to find different ways to tackle the scourge of addiction.

One way officials on all sides of the political spectrum have aimed to tackle the epidemic is by creating safe drug disposal programs. What began as county specific disposal programs became statewide with the help of Senate Bill 6.

SB 6 sponsored by Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, passed through the General Assembly with very little opposition, it requires pharmacists to provide instructions for safe disposals of certain medications—like opiates.

In March 2017, Reps. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, and Kim Moser, R-Independence, introduced the Spring Clean Northern Kentucky initiative which brings safe drug disposal pouches to more than 30 locations in Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties.

Rep. Wuchner and Moser argued that removing drugs from the house can 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,” Moser said.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, has also launched statewide disposal programs. Beshear announced in August the creation of the Kentucky Disposal Program—which provides drug deactivation pouches to Floyd, Henderson, McCracken and Perry Counties—four counties hit particularly hard with opioid addiction.

Beshear has also announced a partnership with CVS Pharmacies creating nine new locations with 24-hour safe medication disposal boxes throughout the state. While presenting the partnership in March, Beshear noted most heroin addiction begins with an addiction to opioids.

“That’s pretty profound. What that tells us is that eighty 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,” said Beshear. “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.”

Senate Bill 6 became law without Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature in March.

For a list of the CVS locations with medication deposit boxes click here.

Watch the segment here: