Hundreds of Families Bring Back Unused Medications for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

On Saturday, October 27, Michigan residents in 32 counties had a chance to get opioids and other unused and expired prescription medicines out of their medicine cabinets through 60 simultaneous events held around the state. The collective effort resulted in hundreds of families safely removing over 3,000 pounds of medication, including approximately 40,000 opioids, from their homes while also increasing awareness in the community about safe medication disposal.

The statewide effort is made possible by local partnerships with the University of Michigan’s Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN) and healthcare organizations, law enforcement and community organizations. The Fall 2018 event doubled the amount of Take Back locations from the Spring 2018 event.

Michigan OPEN works with partners to hold community opioid and medication take back events twice a year. Consistent with findings from the Spring Event, when participants were asked how they disposed of medications prior to coming to the Take Back Event, more than 50% answered, “did not dispose,” highlighting the continuing need for these community events.

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On Saturday, April 28, Michigan residents in 17 counties had a chance to get opioids and other unused and expired prescription medicines out of their medicine cabinets through 27 simultaneous events held around the state. The collective effort resulted in hundreds of families safely removing a total of 2000+ pounds of medication, including approximately 54,000 opioids from their homes while also increasing awareness in the community about safe medication disposal.

The statewide effort is made possible by local partnerships with Michigan OPEN and healthcare organizations, law enforcement and community organizations. The Spring 2018 event tripled the amount of Take Back locations from the Fall 2017 event and tripled the amount of opioids removed from Michigan communities.

Michigan-OPEN works with partners to hold community opioid and medication take-back events twice a year. These events provide a safe process for disposing of unused medications in order to protect communities, children and the environment. When Take Back Event participants were asked how they disposed of medications prior to coming to the Event, more than 50% answered, “did not dispose,” highlighting the need for these community events.

Michiganders from eight communities had a chance to drop unneeded medications off for free on September 30, as part of the largest drug take-back event ever spearheaded by the Michigan-OPEN initiative based at IHPI.

The event, which included partners from healthcare and law enforcement in Ann Arbor, Commerce, Escanaba, Jackson, Livonia, Pontiac, Saginaw, and Traverse City, attracted 766 people, who left behind 900 pounds of medication that they no longer wanted in their homes.

More than 17,500 of the 130,000 pills collected were opioid pain medications, which are the key target of the Michigan-OPEN effort because of their potential for abuse by those who have been prescribed them, or others. But the drive also brought in about an equal number of benzodiazepine and sedative pills, which carry their own risks of diversion and dependence, 10,000 antidepressants and 1,800 stimulants.

The drive once again showed that people tend to receive their opioids after surgery, and to hold on to them for years afterward. The oldest opioid pill collected was from 1984, nearly as old as the oldest one ever brought to a Michigan-OPEN event.

Six locations across the State of Michigan participated in drug take-back events on May 20, 2017. The free, no questions asked chance to get rid of opioids and other unneeded medicines out of the house took place in Ann Arbor, Jackson, Saginaw, Traverse City, Escanaba, and Pontiac.

The results of the combined events were significant, bringing in close to 600 people dropping off 421 pounds of pills. The oldest pain medication returned was from 1976 and more than 15,000 opioids across all of the events were collected. The most common reason for people to have excess medications was from surgery.

The Michigan OPEN-led event aimed to reduce the number of houses that have opioid pain medications on hand, as well as other medicines that shouldn’t be kept around or dumped in the trash or down the toilet. Michigan OPEN co-director, Chad Brummett, M.D., said, “We were very proud to partner with others to make it easy for people to get these medications out of the house before they fall into the wrong hands or get into the natural environment. We can’t thank all of our partners enough, both healthcare and law enforcement, because without them these events would not have been possible.”

The take-back events were sponsored by local health organizations and Michigan Medicine’s Department of Anesthesiology in collaboration with Michigan OPEN.