Alliance Behavioral Healthcare entered a unique partnership this week with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals to make 30,000 drug deactivation pouches available across the four-county Alliance region in central North Carolina. These pouches will allow individuals to safely dispose of expired or unneeded medications, especially opioid pain medications and other narcotics, at home to prevent misuse, abuse and addiction. Each of the donated pouches can hold up to 45 pills, which means that if each pouch is used to maximum capacity, it would get rid of 1,350,000 unused, unneeded pills.
Four North Carolina cities are ranked in the top 20 nationally for opioid abuse, including one in the Alliance region. Research demonstrates that only one child in 20 who misuses prescription medications say they get them from a stranger, a drug dealer or the internet. Instead, two thirds of all people who misuse prescription medications get them from friends and family. These statistics underscore the importance of securing medications at home and properly disposing of leftover medications to prevent them from being misused.
“At Alliance we’re approaching the opioid epidemic from multiple directions,” said Alliance CEO Rob Robinson. “We’ve expanded and improved the services that are available to people with addictions, and we’re addressing the social determinants of health – environmental factors that present barriers to people engaging and remaining in treatment and recovery, including housing, transportation, food security and education. We thank Mallinckrodt for this donation that will allow thousands of people we serve to safely dispose of dangerous medications before they get into the wrong hands.”
Robinson indicated that Alliance’s Care Management Division will oversee a strategic plan to distribute the pouches across Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. This will include routing of pouches to high-risk individuals by Alliance Care Coordinators, efforts by the Alliance Community Relations Department to share pouches as part of its outreach activities, and making donations to partner organizations that are also working to fight drug misuse.
This donation is part of Mallinckrodt’s two-million pouch donation initiative to help address one of the United States’ top public health threats – the abuse of prescription pain medications. The pouches use patented technology to neutralize the active ingredients in opioid painkillers and other organic drugs in pill, liquid and transdermal patch forms. Through proprietary-activated carbon bonds, the pouches help provide a safe and responsible medication disposal method, rendering the drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in any setting, preventing misuse of leftover prescription medication.
“As a company focused on the health and well-being of our patients and communities, Mallinckrodt has long been a strong advocate of addressing the complex issues of opioid misuse and abuse that cause so much harm,“ said Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt President and Chief Executive Officer. “We share the concerns of people across the nation, and believe that providing patients with a safe, environmentally responsible way to dispose of unused medications is critical in this fight against prescription drug abuse. Mallinckrodt is committed to working with policy makers, community leaders, law enforcement and industry partners to ensure the responsible use of pain medication and prevent unused medications from ending up in the wrong hands.”
Wake County Representative Chris Malone spoke Tuesday about the North Carolina General Assembly’s plan for addressing the various aspects of the opioid epidemic. “The General Assembly is fighting the opioid epidemic with an intentional multi-prong approach. In the STOP ACT we aimed to decrease the supply of prescribed opioids,” said Representative Malone. “The problem of safe disposal of unused medication is one that has plagued us for a very long time. There are other programs, like the Take Back Program, and it does a great job but it’s just not widely enough accessible. Many medications cannot simply be disposed of by throwing them in the trash or down the toilet. We are so blessed that right here in House District 35 we have a company like Mallinckrodt that has been generous enough to help fight the opioid epidemic with a product that safely and conveniently disposes extra medications so they do not end up where they may be easy to access and abuse. It will take many initiatives like this to fight this horrible epidemic and we deeply appreciate their support of our local efforts.”
The pouches were developed and manufactured by Minneapolis-based Verde Technologies, which develops research-based, scientifically-proven solutions to reduce opioid abuse and misuse while reducing the environmental impact of the drug disposal process. For more information on the drug disposal pouches, please visit deterrasystem.com.
About Alliance Behavioral Healthcare
Alliance is the managed care organization for publicly funded behavioral healthcare services for the people of Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties. Alliance works with a network of almost 2,200 private providers to serve the needs of 471,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals within a total population of 1.8 million. For more information, visit alliancebhc.org.