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Health & Science

Summit County Introduces Drug-Deactivation Pouches

photo of Daryl Brake

The Summit County Community Partnership is one of the agencies that marked International Overdose Awareness Day today.  And as WKSU’sKabirBhatia reports, it's using the occasion to launch a new way to dispose of unwanted medications – a key part in addressing the opioid crisis.

The Summit County Community Partnership is handing out 40,000 drug-deactivation pouches to law enforcement in Summit County.  Each can hold about 40 pills and, with a little tap water, will turn the contents into a relatively harmless mush that can be thrown in the trash.

Daryl Brake, executive director of the partnership, says it’s part of changing the way people handle their medications.

“Hopefully, [in] 3-5 years -- by consistently doing this – we will be able to change the mindset and behavior of people.  And those medicines will be disposed of in safe ways so they’re not in counters for people to steal and feed their addiction.”

State Rep. Greta Johnson says the pouches will also be part of Narcan kits from the health department, and they’ll be given to schools, senior living communities and Acme pharmacies.

“These bags are a great tool to hand out at the pharmacies when people are getting their prescriptions filled. It will be handed to them with instructions about ‘this is how you dispose of these.' In the presence of mind, people will take it home. Hopefully they’ll put it where they keep their medications so they know when they take that last pill, they can dump the rest of it in that bag and dispose of it properly.”

Officials say the pouches will help people to dispose of unused medications even if they don’t have transportation to a disposal site. Johnson adds that those sites – many of them at police stations – can be used with no-questions-asked.