NEW YORK: The Partnership at Drugfree.org has teamed with pharma companies, government, and law enforcement agencies on a multi-year effort to curb the abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
The million dollar-plus Medicine Abuse Project kicks off September 23, largely targeting parents and caregivers. The campaigns ask them to talk with kids in their lives about the dangers of abusing medicines and to either safeguard or properly dispose of unused medication.
Teen medicine abuse in particular is a growing problem, affecting one in six teens in the US, according to the partnership.
At the end of the event's launch week, consumers will be encouraged to dispose of unused medication at sites around the country operated by local law-enforcement partners as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's national prescription drug take-back day on September 29.
“We've never done anything of this magnitude on medicine abuse,” Marcia Lee Taylor, SVP, government affairs at Drugfree said. “The data is very frightening - one person dies every 19 minutes from prescription drug abuse in the US.”
She added that a major challenge is lack of awareness about the scale of abuse of medication. “There is this halo effect of FDA approval,” Taylor said. “People think medicine can't hurt them. The truth is that, taken as directed, medication can save your life. But when taken to get high, you risk losing your life.”
Opaqueness around the issue is magnified because many of those affected don't like to talk about it, she added. Drugfree is asking people to pledge to stop teen medicine abuse and help prevent half a million teens abusing medicine within five years.
The PR AOR for the campaign is CRT/Tanaka, which won the account in June after a competitive RFP, Taylor said. The firm stood out by bringing prescription bottles to the pitch with messages about how team members' lives had been touched by medication abuse.
“We feel passionate about making a difference with this campaign,” Marcy Walsh, VP of health and healthy lifestyles at CRT/Tanaka explained.
Components of the campaign include a microsite, public service announcements in national media, community outreach, events, and social and media outreach. Blue State Digital is assisting with the digital aspects of the campaign.
Partners such as Teva Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt - the pharmaceuticals business of Covidien - and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) have offered financial and intellectual support.
“Our mission is to safely provide high-quality medicine to patients, while also dealing with a growing problem,” said Debra Barrett, SVP of government affairs at Teva Pharmaceuticals.
In addition to medication abuse, there has also been an increased prevalence of counterfeit drugs around the globe in recent years.