Consequences of Rx Drug Misuse

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The tragic consequences that come with improper drug disposal are highlighted again in the case of the recent toddler visiting his grandma at her nursing home. The toddler was exposed to a fentanyl patch that had been improperly discarded, according to FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

According to the recent article, no one even noticed the child had put the patch on his body which caused him to suffer an overdose. Sadly, he died just two days after the incident occurred.

At an April press conference, Hamburg talked about how stories such as this have both a personal and professional impact on her. She reiterated how fentanyl patches carry instructions regarding proper disposal. They should be flushed down the toilet and never thrown away.

The tragedy only shows that we still have a disposal and safety gap existing in our hospitals and nursing homes.

The timing of the press briefing occurred just prior to the 2012 prescription drug Take-Back Day sponsored by the DEA. DEA Administrator, Michele Leonhart said the first event of this kind happened just four years prior, and then even 121 tons of unused or expired prescription drugs were turned over.

In 2011, almost 500 tons were taken out of availability for misuse because of this program.

According to new data, despite these efforts to dispose of expired or unused prescriptions the problem still remains to be a major cause of abuse. Over 70 percent of the over two million Americans that abuse prescription painkillers initially each year get them from friends and family.

Nearly 55 percent of those considered casual abusers, or using less than once each week, report getting them free from friends or family, as well.

Five percent of abusers say they had stolen them from family or friends without their knowledge. Office of National Drug Control Policy director, Gil Kerlikowske says the new information shows that prevention is the key to solving this problem.

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