More than 900 pharmacists and pharmacy students from across Ohio recently gathered in Columbus for the 140th Annual Conference & Trade Show at the Convention Center, sponsored by the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA). The event is one of the most attended and recognized pharmacy conferences in the nation. Among other professional topics, the role of the pharmacist in Ohio’s opioid crisis will be a leading discussion point.
Pharmacists are on the front lines of the opioid crisis. They are advising patients about new prescribing guidelines for acute pain, and why the number of pain medicines they receive is limited. Pharmacists are also recommending alternative pain relievers, including nonprescription pain medications. And physicians and pharmacists are working together to educate patients about the proper use of the medications and the importance of promptly disposing of any leftover medication.
“About 60 percent of people who have abused prescription medications got the drugs from a home medicine cabinet,” said Ernest Boyd Pharm.D (Hon) MBA, executive director for the OPA. “The safe disposal of medicine is an important way that everyone can help in the battle to stop abuse and keep our communities safe. Spring cleaning season is a great time to empty out the medicine cabinet and safely dispose of any unwanted, outdated or unused medications.”
Specific recommendations about safe disposal options were discussed. These include utilizing take-back locations at law enforcement facilities and some pharmacies, as well as using cat litter or used coffee grounds to mix with medicines in a plastic bag or an airtight container then dispose it in the household trash. Participating member pharmacies of the OPA will receive a supply of drug disposal kits that contain pouches that can be used at home to safely dispose of unwanted medications. Once medicines (liquids and pills) are removed from their container and placed in the pouch with water, the medicines become unpalatable and some cases, neutralized, and the bag is then safe to place in the trash. Participating pharmacies will offer the disposal kits for free to customers.
Efforts to educate Ohioans about the importance of safe disposal of prescription drugs is made possible through a partnership with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative, a convening organization of community and advocacy leaders working to address our nation’s opioid crisis.
“While April 28 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, we want to emphasize that any time you have leftover, expired or unwanted medicines in the home, there are methods to safely dispose of them,” said Michael Ybarra, M.D. an emergency medicine physician ands. “PhRMA is honored to partner with the Ohio Pharmacists Association and other organizations to help inform Ohioans about the importance of safe medicine disposal and the role it can play in combatting the opioid crisis.”