ACEP is a national sponsor of the American Medicine Chest Challenge. It is educating the public about safe disposal of expired, unused and unwanted medications in order to reduce the likelihood of drug abuse or accidental overdose. A recent study reports that prescription drugs were involved in more than 20,000 overdose deaths in 2008, more than half of the total 36,450 overdose deaths that year.
“Emergency physicians treat patients harmed by medication every day, which is why we recommend everyone safely dispose of drugs they aren’t using,” said ACEP president David Seaberg, MD, FACEP. “This is a good time to survey your home for medications that may be sitting in a cabinet or on a bedside table that you no longer need. That includes over-the-counter medications as well as prescriptions. ”
The drug disposal event will take place on November 12, 2011 in 44 states, the District of Columbia and two Native American nations. Everyone should take the five-step American Medicine Chest Challenge:
- Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
- Secure your medicine.
- Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicines at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site (for a list of collection sites, visit www.americanmedicinechestchallenge.com) or in the trash as outlined below.
- Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed.
- Talk to your children about the dangers of drug abuse.
In areas without an American Medicine Chest Challenge disposal site, people should follow federal guidelines for safe disposal of prescription medications:
- Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
- Mix drugs with an unappealing substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
- Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
- Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape or by scratching it off.
- Place the sealed container with the mixture and the empty drug containers in the trash.
“Accidental drug poisonings of children, which are preventable emergencies, are another great reason to take stock of the medicines around your house,” said Dr. Seaberg. “If you don’t need a medication, then your child doesn’t need it either.”
A study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine in 2008 reported that nearly 10,000 very young children accidentally ingested opiates prescribed for adults in their household between 2003 and 2006.