A national coalition dedicated to fighting abuse and misuse of prescription pain medication is inviting area residents to safely dispose of unwanted and expired medicines at any of six local pharmacies on February 18, 2012. Sponsored by the Collaborating and Acting Responsibly to Ensure Safety (C.A.R.E.S.) Alliance (SM), the event comes as pain medicine providers prepare to convene here February 23-26 for the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s annual meeting.
Statistics from the California Department of Health show that the number of emergency room visits in Riverside County related to prescription painkillers jumped by more than 50 percent from 2006 to 2009, illustrating one way the national crisis of abuse and misuse of prescription medication has manifested itself locally.
“Hundreds of people in our community have been affected by prescription drug abuse and misuse, and this event allows local residents to be part of the solution,” said Sergeant Mike Kovaleff, Palm Springs Police Department. “Disposing of unused or unwanted medications in a safe and secure environment is a critical step in fighting this devastating public health problem.”
The event is supported by the Palm Springs Police Department and is sponsored by the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance. The C.A.R.E.S. Alliance is a national coalition of 10 patient safety, provider and drug diversion organizations focused on reducing prescription medication abuse, misuse and diversion and on encouraging responsible prescribing habits.
C.A.R.E.S. Alliance members supporting the take-back day include the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Project Lazarus and Covidien, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. The event is also being held in cooperation with the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
“Combating abuse and misuse of prescription drugs is everyone’s responsibility, as a matter of public safety,” said C.A.R.E.S. Alliance representative Sherice Mills, Manager, Medical Affairs, Pharmaceuticals for Covidien, which created the coalition. “A successful long-term solution can be found, but it requires collaboration to provide education for consumers and better resources for prescribers and pharmacists.”
On the C.A.R.E.S. Alliance’s website (www.caresalliance.org), physicians and pharmacists can find tools for prescribing, screening and assessing patients. Patients and their families can also find tips for the safe use and handling of their medications.
According to Charlie Cichon, Executive Director of NADDI, involvement from many different organizations and individuals is needed to address this complex issue. “We believe that collaboration through this and other initiatives will further the nation’s progress against the illegal diversion of legitimate prescription medicines, which many people do use appropriately,” he said.
Pharmacies throughout the area are participating in the Drug Take-back Day and will be accepting both unused and expired pills. No sharps, liquids or gels will be accepted. A full list of drop-off locations is available at www.caresalliance.org.