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Howard Pharmacy Offers Safer, Better Way to Dispose Unused Medications

Community Needs Tuesday, March 06, 2018 (Willits, CA) – When was the last time you’ve looked through your medicine cabinet? The medicine cabinet can accumulate a lot of clutter over time. The last few cold tablets or doses of cough medicine left over from last year’s cold. Then there are the pain pills you didn’t use, following that root canal or surgery a few years back. 

It adds up fast, and what can you do with it all? Throwing it in the garbage or flushing it down the drain puts dangerous chemicals into the environment. But leaving it in the cabinet isn’t a good option, either. Someone could take an expired medication by accident and suffer consequences. Someone could steal an unexpired medication and use it to support an addiction. But there’s a better way to dispose of them and keep it away from curious hands, says Carrie Winter, pharmacist at Howard Pharmacy. 

“We now have a drug collection box at the pharmacy which will provide Willits residents and beyond, a safe and environmentally responsible way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medication,” she explains. 

“Reducing the amount of unused and unwanted medication in the home is critical to preventing prescription drug abuse,” Winter adds. 

Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. Opioids are prescription painkillers such as Methadone, Percocet, Percodan, Oxycontin (or oxycodone), Vicodin, Lorcet, and Demerol to name a few. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people in the United States died from prescription opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Mendocino County, the statistics are just as staggering, according to the SafeRx Mendocino Opioid Coalition; with two deaths from unintentional prescription opioid overdose each month, that’s twice the California average. And what’s even more alarming is that there are over 1,200 opioid prescriptions per 1000 people in our country – there’s more prescriptions than people. 

The new drug disposal box at Howard Pharmacy will help to reduce the amount of unneeded medicine in homes and decrease the potential for prescription drug abuse, which has soared in recent years, especially among teenagers. More than 70% of teenagers say it is easy to get prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets, according to a Partnership for Drug-Free Kids study. 

“Pain pills can be highly addictive and it only takes one pill that can have so many consequences. Disposing them properly and getting them out of the house will put your mind at ease,” shares Winter. 

Dropping off unwanted or expired drugs is quick and easy, with no forms to fill out or documentation required. Although there are some items that shouldn’t be put in the collection box such as liquids, sharps, needles syringes, thermometers, aerosol sprays, and inhalers. The benefits extend far beyond cleaning out cabinets. For those medications that are turned in, they will no longer be flowing through the community. 

The result is that everyone is safer. An innocent, curious child can’t get them, a young person looking to use or sell a controlled substance can’t get them, and no one in the household will take them by mistake. 

The new drug collection box is located at Howard Pharmacy and unused medications can be dropped off Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Jason Wells, Adventist Health Howard Memorial president explains that the drug collection program is beneficial to the community all around. “It’s a great program and it’s one way we can help our community can do their part to help combat prescription addiction, and protect their households at the same time.” 

Other Safe Medicine Disposal sites in Willits include the Mendocino County Sheriff Office substation and the Willits Police Department. 

Howard Pharmacy is located at 3 Marcela Drive, directly in front of the hospital. Aside from prescription refills the pharmacy also offers over-the-counter medications, orthopedic braces and physical therapy aides. They also offer delivery within city limits, mail delivery, fast prescription service and friendly reminder calls when prescriptions are ready for pickup. Most insurance plans are accepted including Partnership, Medi-Cal and Medicare. To learn more about Howard Pharmacy and services they offer, call 707-456-3005 or visit www.howardhospital.org.