The abuse of prescription drugs is a complex, multifaceted problem that can’t be solved alone by government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, advocacy organizations, groups of industry professionals, or members of the public. But it can be solved by the combined efforts of all of these. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day not only highlights the action members of the public can take to help solve the problem of prescription drug abuse, but serves as a reminder to everyone of the need for a collaborative effort to curb this crisis.
For years, the DEA’s National Take Back Day Initiative has addressed a critical component of illicit drug use — access to controlled substances through friends and family. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. Data from that survey found that 53.7 percent of prescription drug abusers access their medications from friends and family. The DEA’s Take Back Day provides an opportunity for Americans to combat drug addiction and overdose deaths by dropping off their expired and unused prescription drugs at locations nationwide. From there, professionals dispose of them safely. The most recent event in October 2017 collected 456 tons of unused medication.
This is an important effort, but there remains more we can do — together — to reduce flow through other potential sources of illicit drugs, like the internet (including the dark web). At LegitScript, we work to make the internet safer in part by helping to curb the sale of illicit prescription drugs online. We partner with organizations such as Google, Bing, and Amazon to monitor their platforms and stop illicit online pharmacies. We call on all internet companies — in particular registrars — to take aggressive action against the sale of illicit drugs online.
Most recently, LegitScript and Google partnered on a new certification program for addiction treatment providers. Starting in July, advertisers of drug and alcohol treatment services in the United States, including providers of in-person addiction treatment, mutual support groups, and crisis hotlines, will need to be certified by LegitScript before they can advertise through Google AdWords. This is an important way of ensuring that patients who need help are afforded the opportunity for quality treatment.
We also need the contribution of communities and healthcare professionals. At the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in early April, former President Bill Clinton said in a speech that community health centers, local county health units, and faith communities have an essential role to play in this crisis because they already have established relationships with people in need. US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams recommended more people keep on hand naloxone, an opioid antidote that may help restore the breathing of an overdose victim. These grassroots efforts can help with both prevention and treatment.
At LegitScript, we’re proud of the work we do with Google and our other partners to address the opioid epidemic. We encourage the public to find a drop-off location using the Maps locator tool that Google created in partnership with the DEA and safely dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs. Only with a combined effort — from industry, government, and the public — can we hope to stop this unprecedented crisis.