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Bill introduced to increase participation in prescription drug take-back programs

In an effort to increase public participation in the federal prescription drug take-back programs, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley from Iowa and Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut have presented the Access to Increased Drug Disposal (AIDD) Act of 2018. The legislation aims to combat prescription drug abuse and the growing opioid epidemic across the nation by seeking to establish a program under which the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will provide grants to some states to increase their involvement in drug take-back programs.

Prescription opioids were responsible for more than 40 percent of all opioid overdoses in 2016. claiming more than 46 lives every day. Those who misuse prescription medications avoid taking professional drug abuse help to treat their addictive habit or do not have access to certified drug abuse facilities. Accidental overdoses happen when someone takes more of a prescription drug to achieve the desired result or simply to get a high. Too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands due to improper storage or disposal leading to dangerous and tragic consequences. Therefore, it is important to increase participation rates in drug take-back programs and save lives.

Launched in 2010, the nationwide prescription drug Take-Back initiative was undertaken by DEA, government, public health and law enforcement partners to prevent increased pill abuse and theft. Prior to the launch of the event, patients used to dispose of their unwanted prescription medications by throwing them away in the trash, dumping them down the drain or simply holding onto them. However, since its inception, the program has allowed the DEA to collect potentially dangerous, expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs for destruction at designated collection sites throughout the nation. The program is safe, legal and environment-friendly.

Improved participation and better utilization of funds

The DEA’s Take Back Day event has given Americans an opportunity to prevent overdose deaths. However, at the request of Ernst and Grassley, a study was done into the existing drug Take-Back program by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to a report submitted by the Office, while the program was effective, the high costs and confusion over compliance with federal regulations associated with the program created potential barriers for local pharmacies to voluntarily participate in the program, thereby, resulting in a lower turnout.

Ernest talked about the nationwide opioid epidemic and said that given the magnitude of the number of lives lost (over 200 opioid-related deaths in Iowa alone) and the struggle going on between communities across the states and nation to combat the opioid epidemic, one could not let an issue like costs discourage voluntary participation.

The AIDD Act would address the cost of participation by outlining the use of grant funds, eligibility and duration for grants as well as the accountability and oversight of the funding. It would also provide additional insights into the best practices to improve the program and increase participation nationwide.

As per Blumenthal, the newly introduced bipartisan measure will support efforts to remove unwanted drugs before they do any unexpected harm. According to him, “The diversion of prescription drugs from licensed distributors like pharmacies to the illegal drug trade has led millions of Americans down the path of addiction and death. Despite this troubling trend, only three percent of pharmacies and other eligible entities participate in critical drug take-back programs. Our bill will incentivize licensed distributors to participate in these proven programs.”

The Act is supported by the Iowa Pharmacy Association, American Pharmacy Association, National Community Pharmacists Association and National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Recovery from drug addiction is possible

Prescription drug misuse is a menace that has resulted in a national health crisis. While doctors and pharmacies need to be more careful about dispensing prescriptions and medications, the ordinary people should actively take part in federal- and state-run programs to safely get rid of their medications. Addiction can set in with regular use of a drug therefore, the earlier one seeks help, better are the chances of recovery.

If you know someone battling an addiction to drugs, it’s time to get him/her professional help. The representatives at the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help you or your loved one find the best residential drug rehab centers in your vicinity. Call us at our 24/7 helpline (855) 441-4405 or chat online to get connected to some of the finest facilities offering evidence-based residential drug treatment.

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