One approach to mitigating the abuse of prescription drugs – especially with the growing problem with abuse and addiction to opioids – are the periodic drug take-back events such as those sponsored by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Inova Loudoun and Inova Fair Oaks hospitals have announced another step in that effort with the launch of its Drug Take Back Program.
Patients and community members are encouraged to drop off unused or expired prescriptions and/or over-the-counter medications (including pet medications) at collection boxes at both hospitals.
At Inova Loudoun, the collection box has been installed at the South Hospital Entrance near the concierge desk. The Inova Fair Oaks box is located outside the retail pharmacy on the first floor of the main hospital across from the gift shop.
In announcing the program, the following guidelines were stressed:
- The collection boxes are NOT for illegal drugs, sharps, or aerosol medications.
- To save space in the boxes, users are encouraged to empty medications into a sealable plastic bag. Plastic bags are available by the boxes.
- The user can dispose of the labeled vials at their homes.
Prescription opioid misuse and abuse has been a problem throughout the United States and regionally. According to the Virginia Department of Health, in 2016, the number of fatal opioid overdoses in Fairfax County was 80 and there were 29 in Loudoun County.
Flushing medication or putting them down a drain can potentially harm the environment.
In addition to the Drug Take Back Program, the Inova Loudoun and Inova Fair Oaks Emergency Departments have created Opioid Safety Initiative Committees, which are designed to scale back the use of opioid orders in the ED.
“It’s important to discard old prescriptions if they are no longer needed to prevent medication errors or misuse,” said Cathleen Cowden, regional director of pharmacy services for Inova. “And over-the-counter medications that have been in cabinets for a while pose a health hazard to toddlers and other family members,”