About 70 percent of Delaware County residents will receive a packet in the mail to safely deactivate and dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications.
The program, which will cost about $1 million, will be paid for through the county’s $63 million annual opioid settlement funds, said Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D.
“There is an overdose epidemic throughout the nation,” said Taylor. “Delaware County has not been spared. Hundreds of precious lives have been lost, and thousands of families have been affected by drug overdoses. We know one of the single most powerful ways to fight this epidemic is prevention.”
Once deactivated, the medications can then be disposed of in the trash.
County Health Department Director Melissa Lyon demonstrated how easily the Deterra Drug Deactivation System pouch works.
In a three-step process, residents deactivate drugs by putting them in the Deterra pouch, adding water, shaking, and throwing them away in the household garbage. DCHD will be issuing medium-sized Deterra pouches that can deactivate up to 45 pills.
DCHD is bringing the public health harm reduction strategy directly to residents. Deterra pouches and awareness postcards will be shipped to 165,289 county residential addresses in randomly chosen ZIP codes as early as next week.
The remaining addresses will receive the packets next year if additional opioid settlement funding is approved for that purpose.
“Public Health 3.0 is about meeting residents where they are,” said Lyon. “Not only do these pouches reduce the potential for abuse of opioids, safely destroy unwanted drugs and help protect the environment, but they also reduce barriers by helping residents skip the trip to a drug drop off box locations.”
Lyon said after her father passed away, she filled more than a dozen shoe boxes with his unused and expired medications and took them to a medication disposal box to get rid of them safely. But not everyone has a car or the means to travel to one of the boxes.
The Deterra pouches offer a solution, she said.
The Deterra pouches help protect the environment by preventing pharmaceutical drugs from contaminating water supply and landfills, she said. Deterra pouches and the awareness postcards that are also being mailed to residents help destigmatize substance use disorders, reminding residents of resources for help in the county, and reducing avenues for drug abuse and addiction, Lyon said.
“The Deterra Drug Deactivation System is a game-changer in our fight against the drug overdose epidemic,” said Taylor. “It provides a discreet, effective way to dispose of unused medications, helping to destigmatize substance use disorders while supporting individuals and families impacted by this crisis.”
Recipients are urged to keep the pouches and use them as needed. The pouches do not have an expiration date. Residents who receive a pouch but do not want to keep it are asked to share it with family members or neighbors who can use it.