Congressman Richard Hudson on DisposeRx, an effective site-of-use method for drug disposal addressed in his recently passed bipartisan bill, the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate (SOUND) Disposal and Packaging Act (H.R. 5687), 342-13~
“I’ve become aware there’s some great ideas out there. There’s one product DisposeRx . . . they’re based in my district. They’ve come up with this powder, that you can put in the bottle with the pills, add water, shake it up, and you got a biodegradable gel that you can’t cook the drugs out of. That’s a product, now a number of our retail chains are distributing for free with opioids. So, that’s a great solution. I think the key is it’s got to be something that’s easy for the consumer to do from their home.”
Congressman Richard Hudson addresses his colleagues on the House floor: Thank you Mr. Chairman, thank you Mr. Speaker For the time. In 2018, more than two million Americans will suffer from addiction to prescription or illicit opioids.
Brian Wilson: Richard Hudson is serving his third term in the United States Congress, representing North Carolina’s eighth congressional district. On Capitol Hill, Hudson serves on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, a position he uses to focus on reforming healthcare. In particular, Congressman Hudson is working to address the opioid crisis, in a comprehensive way. It’s something he believes that legislators on both sides of the aisle can agree upon.
Congressman Richard Hudson: Opioid addiction continues to take lives every day, more than 100 Americans. Touches every fabric of our society, doesn’t matter where you live, how much money you make, what your personal circumstances are. We’re all susceptible to this. We all know someone who’s been affected. This is something that we all need to be focused on. I’m a member of the Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee. We write the healthcare laws for the country and I’m in a position to do something about it. I’ve been working for a number of years with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to try to tackle this epidemic.
Brian Wilson: They say that politics is the art of the possible. What has been possible in this arena?
Bipartisan Initiatives Address the Opioids Crisis
Congressman Richard Hudson: Well, it’s been remarkable frankly Brian, how again Republicans and Democrats have come together and made some real significant progress in tackling this issue. It’s not one that was created overnight, and it’s not one that we can solve overnight. There’s no silver bullet. This requires education, parents, teachers and law enforcement and healthcare professionals. This requires prevention. It requires us to stop the flow of these drugs, it requires us to make sure that we don’t have as many of these pills floating around in our society, and these parents need to understand the dangers of having opioids in their household, they need to know warning signs to look for. It also has to do with treatment and recovery and how are we helping folks beat the addictions, and get back into society. It’s a full gamut of solutions needed, and it’s a whole lot of money.
Frankly, Congress has stepped up and we’ve appropriated a billion dollars last Congress. This Congress we appropriated $4 billion in the omnibus earlier this year, and 6.7 billion just this week, in our Department of Defense, Labor, HHS appropriations package. We’re working together and we’re putting real money towards this problem.
Brian Wilson: We hear all the time that, you know, it’s so partisan. The things aren’t getting accomplished. But actually, if there was a real need Democrats and Republicans still can come together on occasion can’t they?
Congressman Richard Hudson: Well, we can Brian. I once had a reporter tell me, “Congressman, we don’t write stories about airplanes landing.” Think about that for a minute. Only the planes crashes make the news. I think that’s the case in Congress. In most of the work we do is bipartisan. We have hundreds of bills that have passed the House unanimously, and so, of Richard Hudson and Nancy Pelosi can agree on something, I think that’s a pretty good compromise. Unfortunately, a lot of them are log-jammed over in the Senate, but this is one where even the Senate Republicans and Democrats, came together and we’ve been able to make some real progress.
Brian Wilson: A couple of things we’ve been focusing on is the role of pharmacists in all of this. Do you have any thoughts about that and the importance of empowering them to be involved in the process?
Pharmacists Role Important in Tackling Opioid Epidemic
Congressman Richard Hudson: Well, that’s huge. That’s a huge piece of this because the pharmacist know their patients, especially in rural communities, and patients trust their pharmacists, and pharmacists have a lot of information that we need potentially have access to. We can track prescriptions and know people are trying to doctor shop. You get this case where someone will have five different doctors, they’re all prescribing a legitimate amount of opioids each, but to combine it and that’s something that working with pharmacists, we can identify and tackle that issue. But also, just providing information to people and educating consumers, parents about what they need to be watching for, about the fact that all of us, me included, have had opioids sitting in our medicine cabinet for years. Our pharmacists can play a really big role in educating people about how dangerous that is.
Brian Wilson: That’s exactly what sort of we’re all about here. And that is the fact that, you have these opioids, they’re leftover, people aren’t real good about throwing away thinking, “Oh, maybe someday I’ll need that pain pill for something.” They keep them. But yet, when they’re in the medicine cabinet, they can be diverted and misused. It is an education process, trying to teach people how to make sure they don’t allow that situation to happen. A dangerous situation right in their own medicine cabinet.
“70% of Heroin Addicts Started with an Opioid, Out of a Medicine Cabinet”
Congressman Richard Hudson: Absolutely. Studies show Brian that 70% of heroin addicts started with an opioid, out of a medicine cabinet. You combine that with statistics that show 92% of us who get an opioid prescription, don’t use the whole thing. So, there’s a whole lot of pills sitting around in the medicine cabinets. I had a woman I was talking to just a few months ago in my district who said, she’s moved three times in the last five years, and every time, she packs up her opioids out of the medicine cabinet, moves it to the new home and puts it the medicine cabinet there. You also hear … I’ve heard from two different realtors who told me that they have folks coming to open houses posing as potential buyers and raiding medicine cabinets.
You hear stories of students who … if a student gets hurt in a sports accident, the next day when he shows up a school, fellow classmates say, “Alright. What’d they give you? Spread it around.” It is a real problem. This oversupply, the pills they are out there floating around. That’s why, my focus has been on how do we tackle this oversupply issue. How do we look for better ways of disposing of these opioids? Even in my own personal life, when I first started working on this issue two, three years ago, I looked at my own medicine cabinet, I said, “Sure enough, I’ve got opioids here. What do I do with them?” I took him to the drugstore and they said, “We can’t accept those.” Even me United States Congressman, couldn’t figure out what to do with my opioids. How do I get rid of these? Since then, I think through education and through new technologies and inventions, we’ve come up with ways to dispose of it. A lot of our drugstores now, our pharmacist are stepping up and taking these opioids and disposing them for us. But we still need, we’ve got a long way to go to the point where every American has an easy way to dispose of those opioids.
Brian Wilson: Well, and that is sort of a concern because a lot of people say, “Well, I’ll just flush it down the toilet,” not the right answer.
DisposeRx “easy for the consumer to do from their home.”
Congressman Richard Hudson: No, because if we all flushed them down the toilet, then they’re all going to end up in our watersheds and what’s the impact there. When I first started looking at this, I went to the DEA website to see what their advice was and one of their great ideas was put kitty litter in the bottle with the pills before you throw it away, because surely an addict is not going to dare take pills out of kitty litter. Well, they obviously haven’t met any addicts because that’s just a dumb idea. I’ve become aware there’s some great ideas out there. There’s one product DisposeRx out of . . . they’re based in my district. They’ve come up with this powder, that you can put in the bottle with the pills, add water, shake it up, and you got a biodegradable gel that you can’t cook the drugs out of. That’s a product, now a number of our retail chains are distributing for free with opioids. So, that’s a great solution. I think the key is it’s got to be something that’s easy for the consumer to do from their home. But I think ideas like that is where we need to go.
Announcer: You’re listening to Opioids: Hidden Dangers, New Hope. More, when we return.
[Begin Commercial] Three years ago, you fell down the stairs and ended up with a fractured ankle. OxyContin 10mg. Sometimes you need something to help you sleep, and even though they’re expired they still work. Ambien 5 mg. Last summer you finally broke down and had your wisdom teeth extracted. Percocet 2.5 mg
You never threw them out, so they sit inside your medicine cabinet posing a risk to you, those around you and anyone who enters your home. Today going through medicine cabinets searching for drugs is done by people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, over 70% of new opioid addictions begin in a home medicine cabinet. If storing unused and expired medications puts people at risk of accidental poisoning, addiction and death., why have them there at all?
We invite you to join the growing number of Americans who have pledged to clean out their medicine cabinets with DisposeRx. Simple and safe, DisposeRx is an environmentally friendly and immediate at home drug disposal solution. No more waiting for a take back event or driving to a kiosk. With DisposeRx consumers are now empowered to break the cycle of addiction and death that begins in the home medicine cabinet. Learn more at DisposeRx.com. Available online at Walmart.com. [End Commercial]
Congressman Richard Hudson addresses his colleagues on the House floor: As I’ve traveled across my district, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effect these drugs can have them families, friends and loved ones. There is no barrier for these drugs, they strike at every level of society and across every geographic region. It touches all of us. In North Carolina, we have four of the top 25 worst cities for opioid abuse in the country. This truly is the crisis next door. I’m proud of the collective effort the House of Representatives has undertaken in a bipartisan way, to address this epidemic.
Brian Wilson: Is there a personal reason why this is so important to you?
Congressman Richard Hudson is in a Position to Help Constituents Affected by the Opioid Crisis
Congressman Richard Hudson: I don’t really have a personal story of someone in my family per se. This is just something that’s there talking to my constituents. I’ve heard heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story, of people who’ve lost loved ones. It’s just become very personal to me, because I’ve had so many folks that I represent who have been affected. And being on the Committee of Jurisdiction, I’m in a position to do something about it. That’s why I’m so determined to do it.
Brian Wilson: All right. As we wrap up here, let me just ask you what do you think is the most important thing, that people listening to this podcast should know about how Congress is working to tackle this problem?
Bipartisanship and Education are Key to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Congressman Richard Hudson: Well, first of all, we’re working together both sides of the aisle, and we recognize this as a crisis, and we’re looking at it in a comprehensive way. We just passed HR 6 which combined some 30 or 40 pieces of legislation, that tackles everything from treatment, recovery, prevention, protecting our communities and fighting this fentanyl that’s coming in illegally. We are addressing this in a comprehensive, way and we’re putting real money behind it. Just this year 2018, we’ve appropriated almost $11 billion towards this issue. The President has declared a national medical emergency. We are all focused on getting the resources to our community that we need, to combat this issue. And it’s really important that every person out there listening, educates themselves on the dangers of having opioids floating around, and making sure that we’re being responsible.
Brian Wilson: Well, Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you for the work that you’ve been doing on this.
Congressman Richard Hudson: Great, Brian. Appreciate you highlighting this really important issue.
Announcer: Thank you for listening to Opioids: Hidden Dangers, New Hope. Subscribe today where you get your podcast or visit opioids-hiddendangers-newhope.com for more information. This presentation is underwritten by DisposeRx.