Mills Pharmacy to ‘take back’ drugs in war against opioid addiction

Unused prescription drugs are dangerous to have around the house.

A Leeds pharmacy is joining the battle to stop opioid addition and dangerous use of expired or unused medicines by offering to “take back” the drugs and dispose of it properly.

Robert Mills, owner of Mills Pharmacy

Robert Mills, owner of Mills Pharmacy on 8420 1st Avenue in Leeds, is hosting a Prescription Drug “Take Back” Day on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to accept leftover medicine from residents’ medicine cabinets that could pose harm when taken inappropriately. The take-back day is also being held at three other Mills Pharmacy locations in Roebuck, Pinson and Bluff Park.

Mills’ take-back day comes six months after the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day that was held on April 28 for about four hours. Lisa Weber, a prevention specialist with Aletheia House offices in St. Clair County, said once a year is not often enough to rid homes of medicines that could end up in the hands of someone with an opioid addiction or others who take the old medicine without knowing and become sick.

Mills understands that concern, which is why his pharmacy is one of the only Birmingham area pharmacies to organize an event outside of the national take back day. Mills plans to accept unused medicines at all his pharmacies starting in January during store hours, not just during an event.

Opioid abuse “is a crisis” and doctors are being told to prescribe fewer pain medications to put fewer pills on the market, Mills said. Weber said prevention specialists want the process of giving back drugs at pharmacies to become a regular habit.

Mills partnered with Weber and Aletheia House, which is a nonprofit substance abuse treatment and prevention program, and St. Clair County and Jefferson County sheriff’s departments and the Leeds Police Department.

The take-back day only includes pills and liquid medicine. They don’t accept inhalers or needles, but those can be thrown away in the trash without harm, Mills said. The prescription drugs collected will go with a third-party agency that will dispose of it.

The Drug Enforcement Agency says opioid abuse is at epidemic levels in the U.S. and is a top public health concern. The DEA’s “Take-Back” initiative is one of several strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion in the nation, according to drug.com. Additional strategies include education of health care providers, patients, parents and youth; establishing prescription drug monitoring programs in all 50 states; and increased enforcement to address illicit methods of prescription drug diversion. In 2018, the U.S. government allotted $4.6 billion in the federal budget toward the expanding opioid crisis.

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