By Tamas Mondovics

Representatives of local government, law enforcement, environmental and pharmaceutical agencies joined forces last month to introduce a pilot program and product to help consumers with safe and effective home disposal of prescription medications.

Officials promoted the effort and the launch of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals project during a press conference hosted by the Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance (HCADA) on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day last month.

The program launch is specific to four coalitions in Tampa, Naples, Sanford and Miami Gardens involving the promotion and distribution of 40,000 home disposal bags, or Deterra Drug Deactivation System, which neutralizes the active chemicals in prescription drugs using carbon. To use the Deterra System, the consumer simply places unused medications in the pouch, which can hold up to 90 pills, fill halfway with warm tap water, wait 30 seconds, seal pouch, gently shake and dispose with normal trash.

“The pouch renders unwanted, unneeded narcotics, antibiotics, transdermal patches and other prescription drugs ineffective for misuse and safe for disposal and the environment,” said Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals Director of Advocacy Relations, Kevin Webb.

According to HCADA Director Cindy Grant, the main focus is on how to can get expired, unwanted medication out of the medicine cabinet.

“This event is about raising awareness, while emphasizing the progress made in Florida,” Grant said. “We are taking steps to effectively address prescription drug abuse with the pill mill crackdown and enactment of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, but with a necessary comprehensive and coordinated strategy.”

Ben Lewis with Florida Rural Water Association also praised the new effort.

“In the past, it was recommended to flush these medications down the toilet or sink,” Lewis said. “We now know that drugs that are disposed by flushing can enter the environment, as well as cause harm to fish and other aquatic life. This new product allows medication to be safely disposed of in landfills where the insoluble products will not leach into groundwater.”

For information about how to participate and to receive disposable pouches, visit www.hcada.com or call 238-4034.