October 15, 2017
Tennesseans surrendered more than 35,489 pounds of pills and pill waste in two days over the last year in collection events sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
And there was an additional 52,164 pounds collected at permanent drop-off sites around the state between September 2016 and August 2017, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The waste — which includes pill bottles or other packaging as well as the pills themselves — gets unused medications out of people’s homes, and potentially away from those who are potential abusers.
The volume of collected pills — it could be anything, from vitamins to OxyContin to aspirin — continues to surprise Tommy Farmer, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation special agent-in-charge, who thought the amount collected would dwindle after the early take-back days.
“That hasn’t happened. The numbers continue to climb,” said Farmer, who also is director of the Tennessee Methamphetamine and Pharmaceutical Task Force. “It’s good but it’s also shocking that the numbers continue to climb.”
Since 2012, more than 219,705 pounds of pill waste have been collected.
A drop-off point in Bellevue in Davidson County collects the most, probably because it’s the first location when coming from nearby southern and western towns, said Kristina Clark, co-founder of Count It! Lock It! Drop It!, a statewide awareness campaign on how to store and dispose of medications.
Despite the tons of pills surrendered, the death toll from overdose has continued to rise. In 2016, at least 1,631 Tennesseans died from overdose of prescription opiates, illicit drugs or other medications such as benzodiazepines.
Read the full story on The Tennessean.
Holly Fletcher covers health care for the Tennessean’s business desk, working to explain how the changing health care landscape will impact the people who need health care (everyone) and the businesses that provide care.