NCPA Executive Committee member and Gloucester Pharmacy owner Keith Hodges recently joined actress and parent advocate Catherine Hicks (of the TV show “7th Heaven”) to launch the Safeguard My Meds patient education and safety campaign. On a whirlwind satellite media tour, they spoke to 30+ national and regional TV, radio, and newspaper outlets to raise awareness for the new program. Click here to watch one of those interviews.
When used as directed, prescription medicine can play a critical role in treating a range of medications condition. With the power of prescription medicines comes great responsibility for their use and storage. That is why NCPA has partnered with Purdue Pharma to launch Safeguard My Meds and offer information on simple, yet important, steps that can be taken in the home to protect prescription medicine from misuse.
A new national survey shows that while an overwhelming majority of Americans say that it is extremely or very important to safely store and dispose of prescription medicine, many may not be doing everything they can to protect their medicines. Most of those surveyed indicated that they keep prescription medicine in an unlocked cabinet, closet or drawer in their homes. Moreover, respondents frequently said they store prescription medicine in the bathroom or kitchen, two areas in which temperatures and conditions could compromise a drug’s integrity and are often unsecured and easily accessed by anyone entering the home.
There can be dangerous consequences when prescriptions aren’t stored securely, particularly for young people.
- According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, for young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug (behind marijuana) with controlled substances playing a major role.
- In fact, one in five U.S. high school students says they have abused a prescription medicine at least once in their lives.
- And a majority (70 percent) of those young people say they are acquiring those drugs from a friend or relative, not the street corner as once thought.
As medication experts, community pharmacists can play a major role in reversing this trend. Encourage your patients to talk to you about how to store, use and dispose of prescription medicine properly. In particular, help your patients understand the ways to safeguard prescription medicines. For instance, medicines at greater risk of being abused – such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and depressants – should be kept in locked storage containers. These medicines are targets for theft, so extra precautions should be taken. Other measures include taking an inventory of prescription medicines in the home at least twice a year; storing medicines in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children and pets; and never sharing prescription medicine with anyone else.
NCPA has been long-time partners with Purdue Pharma on issues of drug safety, including our partnership on the Protect Your Pharmacy Now! anti-crime campaign as well as the Prescription Drug Safety Award, which recognizes pharmacists who have reached out in their communities to provide education on the benefits of the correct use of prescription drug products and the hazards associated with their misuse. We’re proud to work with them on Safeguard My Meds and look forward to offering members increased information and resources as a result of this partnership in the coming weeks. Information on safe medicine storage, along with a variety of downloadable print, video and online materials with valuable tips can be found at www.SafeguardMyMeds.org.