Prescription drug ‘Take Back’ day

Bill San Antonio

North Shore University Hospital received more than 90 pounds of prescription medications Saturday as part of North Shore-LIJ Health Systems’ involvement in the sixth bi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, according to LIJ officials.

Director of Sustainability Lisa Birch said the return was the most collected at North Shore to date, thanks to the newly-implemented “drive-up/drop-off” system at North Shore-LIJ locations in Manhasset, New Hyde Park, Great Neck, Plainview and Syosset in addition to help from the Manhasset Coalition Against Substance Abuse, which helped advertise the event around town.  

Manhasset coalition project coordinator Cathy Samuels said the group hung signs advertising the event throughout the Manhasset community and sent email blasts throughout the school district and civic programs. It also provided North Shore University hospital with educational materials.

“When you have organizations like North Shore-LIJ doing the great work they’re doing, you have to support it,” she said.

In the past, Samuels said Manhasset Coalition Against Substance Abuse has worked with the Town of North Hempstead and various police precincts on other “take back” efforts to reduce illegal, underaged drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the community.  

“Really, the key for us is to stop alcohol and drug use in our kids before they get in trouble, ” Samuels said. “We feel we have a responsibility to get everyone involved, from the schools and parents to the business community and civic associations, and the “take back” programs are a great way for us to do that.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths have increased for 11 straight years, and more than 38,000 people died of an overdose in 2010 in the United States. Most of the medicines involved were prescription drugs.

“Prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest growing problems in our society and can have deadly consequences,” said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive operating officer of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in a statement. “By offering our hospitals as locations for safe removal and disposal of unused medicines, we are addressing a vital public safety and health issue.”

According to a North Shore-LIJ release, more than 2,000 pounds of unused or expired medications have been collected at North Shore-LIJ facilities since 2010.

Over the course of five previous “Take Back” events since the program began two years ago, the Drug Enforcement Agency and its partners received more than two million pounds of pills. 

At the last national “Take Back” event in September 2012, Americans turned in 244 tons of prescription drugs at more than 5,200 sites operated by DEA officials and its state and local law enforcement partners, according to the DEA.

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Bill San Antonio

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