John Holaday on how a simple change in behavior at home can break the cycle of opioid addiction and death that begins in the home medicine cabinet.
“Our passion is to both, educate and legislate. On the education side, letting people understand that they’ve got to change behaviors. They’ve got to look in their medicine cabinet and get rid of these leftover opioids. We have a product that does that called, DisposeRx. . . it changes behavior. Our solution is a site of use solution. That is, at home. You don’t get in your car, you just take your drugs out of the medicine cabinet. Add . . a small amount of powder about the same amount as you’d find in a pack of sugar . . . add the water . . .shake it up in that prescription vial and within a minute or two, the drugs are dissolving and . . . become immersed in a gel from which they cannot be easily diverted or abused. And in which, they biodegrade overtime, so that they won’t pollute landfills.”
John HoladayAn ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.
Brian Wilson:A scientist, an author, an inventor, an entrepreneur, and a veteran. John Holaday has seen and done a great many things. But, it’s in his role as Chairman and CEO of DisposeRx where he’s making perhaps his greatest impact. What follows is a conversation with a man who studied the opioid crisis from every angle, and one who is determined to change how our society views disposing of its medications.
Brian Wilson: How did we get into an epidemic? Where did it all start?
John Holaday: Well, there are a number of routes towards this epidemic. The one that probably is the most important is when it was decided, in about the late ’90s, to put more opioids in the marketplace, under the flawed premise that opioids like OxyContin are not addictive, and that one should have a way of treating chronic pain with a drug that’s less addictive. So they put OxyContin in the market. And that was from Purdue Pharma. And then as it became more widely abused, or misused, people would turn to other drugs, like heroin, because they couldn’t afford it. It was a dollar a milligram. An 80 milligram OxyContin tablet, $80.00 on the street. Average problem with people who were taking up to $500.00 worth of drugs a day, couldn’t afford it.
Brian Wilson: Right.
John Holaday: Where do they turn? They turn to heroin. For $20.00, you can get a pop of heroin; far less expensive and a better high.
Brian Wilson: Alright so, are there anything inherently wrong with the idea of opioids? I mean, can they serve a legitimate purpose?
John Holaday: You know, there’s no better way to achieve pain relief for moderate to severe pain, having had some surgeries in the last few years, if I had not had opioids I wouldn’t have been able to go through the recovery, and the physical therapy that was necessary. What about cancer pain? The people with chronic diseases like cancer, need to have pain therapy. And it’s not so important they’ve become addicted to them. They’ve got to have pain relief. But there are no better drugs for the relief of moderate to severe pain than the category of opioids.
Brian Wilson: The problem comes after you’ve completed the therapy. Now you’ve got an addiction that you need to be … Treat the addiction and that you have sometimes, many leftover drugs sitting around.
John Holaday: The average duration of a leftover drug in the medicine cabinet is in excess of three years.
Brian Wilson: Wow.
John Holaday: Although, drugs might have labels on them saying, “Please destroy after XY years.” Those drugs are really good for a far longer period of time. But what we’ve got to do is to change those habits. We have a disruptive approach to getting rid of the medicines before they cause harm. Because 70% of the opioids addictions, overdoses and death, begin with leftover drugs in the medicine cabinet. They can no longer be afforded, people turn to heroin. And now the heroin is laced with something called fentanyl. 50 times more powerful than heroin itself, and those are the overdoses of many of the people right now.
President Trump: A special emphasis will be placed on the new phenomena fentanyl. Destroying lives by the millions.
Brian Wilson: I hear a lot of people talking about fentanyl. But I’m not sure I really understand what it is and what it’s purpose is and why it’s so dangerous.
John Holaday: It’s a different chemical structure. It’s often used by the anesthesiology to induce anesthesia prior to surgery. Because it’s so powerful, it comes on very quickly. It’ll also give you a very good rush. For cancer patients, fentanyl is given in patches. So, they’ll put the patch on the arm and over a day or two, it delivers its dose of fentanyl to relieve cancer pain. So it’s a very important drug. Because it is so powerful however, very small amounts, just a few grains, can be toxic and kill you.
And so, if you’re trying to import a drug into the United States, it’s easy to bring it in because it’s in such small quantity. It’s not detectable by most dogs that can sniff things out. And it’s a very, very powerful drug.
Brian Wilson: I mean, in a small vial of fentanyl as I understand it, you have enough drug to kill thousands of people.
John Holaday: That’s correct.
Brian Wilson: Wow. As we look at the problem now, what is the solution? How do we work our way out of it? What is the government element to this? What is the private sector element to all of this?
John Holaday: Our passion is to both, educate and legislate. On the education side, letting people understand that they’ve got to change behaviors. They’ve got to look in their medicine cabinet and get rid of these leftover opioids. We have a product that does that called, DisposeRx. On the legislation side, we think that in much the same way as child resistance closures were put on various pill bottles by legislation. In 1970, The Poison Packaging Pill Prevention Act, required the caps to be put on in a way that would prevent children from breaking them open and abusing the drugs.
Public Service Announcement: Most children under age five can’t remove children resistant closures. Only you can. But it’s up to you to remember. Secure the caps tightly. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Within two years, there was a 45% reduction in childhood deaths from leftover medicines in medicine cabinets. We think much in the same way. A package like our product, should be dispensed with the drug such that, when people are done with them, they put them in a simple convenient easy permanent shakeup with water. Throw it away and they can’t be retrieved for misuse.
Brian Wilson: And it’s more ecologically safe to do it that way as well.
John Holaday: Indeed.
Brian Wilson: And so you have such a passion for trying to solve this dilemma that we find ourselves in, what drives that passion?
John Holaday: I studied opioids for over 40 years. I’ve trained at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. I was one of the early endorphin researchers. I’ve been studying these things for a very, very long time. As it turns out, the chemists and the pharmacologists that try to invent better opiates. Whether they’re morphine, heroin. One-by-one as they come down … Oxycodone, fentanyl. Each of these different opioids, they hope, will have fewer side effects and be less deadly. But for the same amount of pain relief, they all give you the same amount of respiratory depression. And it’s respiratory depression that kills you.
Announcer: You’re listening to Opioids: Hidden Dangers, New Hope. More when we return.
[Begin Announcement] 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 at Walmart. [End Announcement]
Announcer: You’re listening to Opioids: Hidden Dangers, New Hope.
Brian Wilson: Yeah. The whole idea that you’ve come up with, which I think is a brilliant part of it. Is you can’t have an addiction if the drugs aren’t there to be taken.
John Holaday: Balanced with the fact that if the drugs aren’t there to be taken, you can’t properly treat pain. So the Health and Human Services offices right now, are emphasizing the need to find ways of relieving pain. People commit suicide because they can’t get pain relief. Some people commit suicide because they get opioid overdoses. So either way you look at it, it’s a paradox. You’ve got to have both sufficient opioids for pain relief, and make sure that they’re not made so available that they get diverted for addiction overdose and death.
Brian Wilson: That’s a hard needle to thread, isn’t?
John Holaday: It is. And that’s what the challenge is at present.
Brian Wilson: What do you hope will come in the days going forward with your product and the continuing effort to try to resolve this issue?
John Holaday: What we would like to do is to educate people that they’ve got to change their behavior. They can’t keep their opioids in their medicine cabinet. It is disruptive, much as seat belts disrupted an ordinary behavior, and people had to learn to use them. It saved lives. Much as recycling changed the way people manage leftovers and waste. We think that managing opioids and other drugs in the medicine cabinet, not just opioids. Maybe I should point out, of those 64,000 deaths, 42,000 were from opioids. That meant, 22,000 were from other drugs like Xanax, Adderall, other drugs which can be abused and whose overdose can lead to death, addictions, et cetera.
Brian Wilson: So we need to be aware of what’s in our medicine … I mean, there is a deadly thing in our house that we don’t even think about.
John Holaday: As I said earlier, it starts in the medicine cabinet. We think that a product such as ours, which inactivates the drugs so they can’t be abused and diverted for misuse, is an appropriate way to begin the process. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.
Brian Wilson: I mean, if we had a radon problem for example, in our house. We would take action. If we had another dangerous thing in our house we would immediately rush to solve that problem. And yet, it’s lost on a lot of people that in the medicine cabinet, is something that could be more dangerous to the life of your loved one then perhaps, any other thing in your house.
John Holaday: That’s correct.
Brian Wilson: So you have these very dangerous and addictive drugs, that can destroy lives in your medicine cabinet. How do you get rid of them?
John Holaday: Brian, the thing that surprised me in looking into this as we developed our DisposeRx product, is this is not regulated by the DEA, the FDA, the EPA or the CDC. They’re all very, very interested in it. They’re all wanting to find one way of managing this, but none of those agencies are mandated by law to manage the disposal of leftover drugs. The DEA thinks that the best answer is kiosks, and they’ve encouraged the putting kiosks in various pharmacies as well as, in law enforcement offices around the United States. And that is one solution, but that’s also disruptive. You have to get in your car, you have to drive to the place. You have to find the kiosk, and then you put your drugs in. If it’s in a drug store, they have the liability of managing those leftover drugs, they might not have even dispensed.
So it changes behavior. Our solution is a site of use solution. That is, at home. You don’t get in your car, you just take your drugs out of the medicine cabinet. Add the powder, which we call “DisposeRx”, a small amount of powder about the same amount as you’d find in a pack of sugar. You add the water, you shake it up in that prescription vial and within a minute or two, the drugs are dissolving and they become immersed in a gel from which they cannot be easily diverted or abused. And in which, they biodegrade overtime, so that they won’t pollute landfills.
We’ve done extensive testing on our product to show that it is safe for landfills. We’ve done a lot of work showing how tough it is, if possible, to get drugs out of them once they’ve been put in there. Simple site of use solution, and I might say that the analogy that kinda sparked this thought was, “What happens when you buy flowers?” There’s a packet with the flowers. You put that in the water to preserve the flowers.
Brian Wilson: Right.
John Holaday: Why not when you get an opioid, or an abusable drug, you get a little packet? You put that into the vial, and you preserve lives.
Brian Wilson: So, somebody listening right now to this podcast, to this interview. And they know that they’ve got dangerous drugs in their medicine cabinet, what would you say to them?
John Holaday: I would say, go to a pharmacy chain such as, Walmart with whom we’ve worked. Rite Aid and others, where you can receive a free packet of DisposeRx with your opioid prescription. You take that home and you get rid of the opioids once you’ve used them for the pain relief, for which they are prescribed. What happens is that patient says, “What about the other drugs I’ve got in my medicine cabinet?”
Brian Wilson: Yeah.
John Holaday: “How do I get rid of them?” So, what we’ve done is with Walmart, we’ve put together a means by which, online you can order a box of six, like a band-aid box for a very small amount of money. That will allow you then to treat the other drugs at home.
Brian Wilson: So they’re not there to be abused.
John Holaday: Exactly
Brian Wilson: So, explain to me exactly how your product works.
John Holaday: It’s simple. [YouTube video : DisposeRx – Demonstration Video – How to use at home drug disposal solution] Let’s say you have a pill vial with some leftover drugs. In this case, I have three pills. What one does is you pour water in this. This can be up to a third full of pills, capsules, tablets-
Brian Wilson: Okay.
John Holaday: -Any particular conveyance for drugs. You pour water in so it’s half to two-thirds full.
Brian Wilson: Alright.
John Holaday: Add the powder from this packet, it’s about two grams of powder. Put the cap back on and then, shake it.
Brian Wilson: Okay.
John Holaday: Initially, you can hear the vial with the pills rattling. And over a short period of time, you can no longer hear the pills rattling because it’s already forming a gel.
Brian Wilson: You hear a sloshing, but that’s all.
John Holaday: From which it cannot be then be extracted for abuse or misuse.
Brian Wilson: Right.
John Holaday: Within a minute or two, this becomes a rather rigid gel. This is an example of the gel that was made earlier today, where one cannot pour the product out because it’s in such a thick gel …
Brian Wilson: It’s just a goop.
John Holaday: It’s a nasty goop.
Brian Wilson: Yeah.
John Holaday: This one will be done by the time we finish our conversation, as a solid. But I wanted to show you something. What happens over time? What happens is, this product becomes moldy and dries up.
Brian Wilson: Wow.
John Holaday: And as a consequence, once it’s in the landfill, nothing can escape it because it’s been dried up and eaten up by the molds and bacteria that occur in the landfill.
Brian Wilson: It seems very simple to solve a complicated problem.
John Holaday: It’s so easy.
Brian Wilson: There’s something you can do, right now, to take proper care of the unused or unwanted prescriptions in your medicine cabinet.
Visit DisposeRx.com to learn how in just a few minutes you can responsibly dispose of your medications in a simple environmentally friendly way. That’s DisposeRx.com
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