WASHINGTON: The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has launched a wide-reaching outreach effort to educate Americans on proper disposal techniques for prescription drugs while simultaneously warning of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
"It's the first time we've been able to develop an inter-agency set of guidelines that take into account the challenge of prescription drug abuse and the potential environmental impact of drug disposal," said Jennifer de Vallance, ONDCP press secretary.
ONDCP has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the push. In addition to media outreach, the effort also involves work with organizations the American Pharmacists Association, as well as health insurance providers and hospices, to spread information through their newsletters or membership channels.
The new federal prescription drug disposal guidelines urge Americans to take unneeded or expired drugs out of their original container, mix the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter, and put them in non-descript containers. It also asks that people return unused or expired prescription drugs to pharmaceutical take-back locations.
The outreach will also attempt to tackle the growing problem of illicit use of prescription drugs. According to ONDCP, approximately 6.4 million Americans report non-medical use of prescription drugs. The abuse, de Vallance said, is fueled by the relative ease of access to prescription drugs. More than 60 % of people who abuse prescription drugs say they got them from a friend or relative, according to ONDCP research.
Later this month, ONDCP will place an open letter in the top 25 newspapers across the country to educate people about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
"Our research shows young people as well as adults think abusing prescription drugs is safer than abusing illegal drugs," de Vallance said. "They have a false sense of safety."