Mary Sundeen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications, on educating people about the use of highly efficient site-of-use drug disposal solutions, such as DisposeRx, to save lives ~
“We see far too many deaths in this country each day. We have far too many funerals. We’re burying far too many young people. There are too many coffins, too many processions, too much tears and sadness. A solution exists, we just need people to know about it and become educated and become empowered to use this highly efficient system to save lives.”
Brian Wilson: With a background in hospice care, Mary Sundeen has seen opioids used appropriately as a tool for helping those at the end of life pass peacefully and without pain. But it’s the diversion and misuse of prescription drugs that moved her to action. Now as the Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at DisposeRx, Mary has a strong message for our podcast. A message about site of use disposal the environmental impact of diverted drugs and how thinking as a society must evolve if we are to end the opioid crisis.
Mary Sundeen on the Evolution of Drug Disposal Solutions
Mary Sundeen: When I first joined DisposeRx I looked at this wonderfully simple elegant solution, and to me I look at this as a story of evolution. When we started with childproof caps back in 1970 that was to reduce some of the risk of accidental poisonings. We then moved along to take back days to try and harvest drugs. We then had kiosks that were used in different stores and different places. But none of those were the solution. I say that because in the presence of a decades long war on drugs, and in the presence of DEA take back days, and in the presence of kiosks, this crisis has escalated. How did we get where we are today if these things work? It’s time for a new technology. The evolution of drug disposal is solutions such as Dispose RX – 100% eradication of the opportunity for drug misuse, abuse, or diversion.
Brian Wilson: What is site of use? I mean i hear people say we want to take care of the problem at the site of use, but the site of use can be your home.
What is Site-of-Use Drug Disposal?
Mary Sundeen: Site of use is an industry term and it simply means get rid of the medication wherever it is. If you used it in your home to take care of a loved one and they passed away, get rid of it then. If you have shoulder surgery, or oral surgery and you’re done with the pills, you took two of the 10 that the doctor gave you, get rid of the rest of them in your home. Wherever the pills are used is where you should get rid of them. July 1st a new law went into effect in the state of Kentucky that mandated that Hospices get rid of medication in the home at the time of the patient’s death, or, actually more importantly, whenever that prescription has changed. Instead of changing from .25 milligrams to .50 and keeping the .25s, throw them out, get rid of them right away so you have fewer medications available in the home.
Taking Action in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse
Mary Sundeen: When I worked in Hospice, I saw the large amounts of medications in the homes of patients. Also, I’ve worked in the healthcare setting, in emergency rooms, and seen overdose patients come in. Those numbers are escalating. Calls to suicide hotlines are escalating. This is truly a crisis in our nation. I’m not one to sit back, nor is our founder, Dr. John Holaday, to sit back and watch such things without wanting to do something about it. The opportunity to work with this product is a fantastic one.
Brian Wilson: Having been in the Hospice environment no doubt you have seen cases where at the end of someone’s life the family is handed the belongings, which often include a box of medications. And, that’s a problem isn’t it because if they are carrying around those medications that are not in their name, they’re in technical violation of the law aren’t they?
When to Dispose of Loved One’s Medications When No Longer Needed
Mary Sundeen: They can be in certain quantities. It is illegal to carry prescription narcotics that do not have your name on it, so that is indeed breaking the law to do so. But one of the larger points is that when families taking care of a loved one the medications come in so quickly through mail order pharmacies, they’re automatic, and if a prescription gets changed from say .50 milligrams to .25 milligrams the old drugs continue to come for a couple of weeks. They’re automatically delivered through mail order pharmacies, so families end up sometimes getting daily drop offs of narcotics at the home. At the end of taking care of their loved one, what do they do with all those medications? They often don’t know, so we would like to be able to focus on site of use destruction of those medications at the point of the use, right in the home, with the patient, with the family, at the Hospice, in the hospital room. Get rid of the medications at that point. Do not carry them somewhere else to get rid of them.
Brian Wilson: The problem can be solved quite easily.
Mary Sundeen: Absolutely.
Brian Wilson: It’s just a matter of education is it not?
Education is Key – Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet
Mary Sundeen: It is a matter of education, a matter of understanding, and a matter of empowerment, a matter of letting people know that they can do something about this crisis. They can do something in their own home and get rid of these medications so they don’t go on for any type of misuse, abuse, or diversion.
The average is three years that people leave a medication in their home cabinet. Some people will go in and find something … A challenge to anyone listening right now to look in their medicine cabinet. They may see something seven years old. That’s not usable anymore. It’s very dangerous and it needs to be gone. We don’t cut ourselves everyday, but yet we all have band aids in our medicine cabinet. We have band aids in there in a little box. Why not have a box of Dispose RX in your medicine cabinet as well? If you get a tooth pulled, oral surgery, hurt your shoulder, you’re going to get medication that’s going to provide pain relief. Don’t save it for down the road. Don’t save it for the next time you get hurt. It’s not worth the chance that you could be taking.
And, it’s not just your family, we’re hearing statistics from the Realtors Association nationwide that people are going into home showings and going specifically to look into medicine cabinets and take drugs, not even to look at the home. It is not just your family, it could be anyone coming into your home, any repairman, anyone. There’s no reason to keep those things in the house for the chance that they could be misused or abused and could lead to the ultimate death of another person.
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]
Brian Wilson: So, a lot of people the easy answer is you just flush them down the toilet, but that’s a disaster, it has a disastrous impact on our environment.
Why It’s NOT OK to Flush Medications Down the Toilet
Mary Sundeen: Just strip everything down to the core arguments and the core sort of common sense principles. If the federal government had people flying overhead and dropping pills into the waterways, into the rivers, into the lakes, people would be up in arms.
Brian Wilson: Yes they would.
Mary Sundeen: People would be just marching in the streets. Yet, their guidance to us is hey it’s okay to flush pills into the waterways, the very thing. They have deputized 250 million people to put drugs into the waterways.
DisposeRx Renders Medication Unretrievable for any Practical Purpose
Mary Sundeen:When someone uses Dispose RX in a medication vial and follows the directions, it renders the medication unretrievable for any practical purpose.
Brian Wilson: And, that means that it cannot be misused by someone and send them down the path to potential addiction.
Mary Sundeen: We see far too many deaths in this country each day. We have far too many funerals. We’re burying far too many young people. There are too many coffins, too many processions, too much tears and sadness. A solution exists, we just need people to know about it and become educated and become empowered to use this highly efficient system to save lives.
Brian Wilson: We talk about opioids, but really it’s any narcotic, any drug that can be misused, and we may be just on the beginning edge of a much bigger wave.
The Danger Extends Beyond Just Opioids
Mary Sundeen: You’re absolutely right Brian. The RX Summit down in Atlanta earlier this year, that was one of the main thrusts of the conference. People were discussing that yes we have this incredible opiod crisis that we’re all working on right now, but this is the leading edge of a very large wave. Coming right behind this is a potential benzodiazepine crisis, other classes of medications that are being abused. As I said earlier, even antibiotics can be abused. There is not a valid reason to harbor medication, unused, expired, or unwanted medication in your home. There is no good reason to do that.
Brian Wilson: And with that we end this series of podcasts. Many thanks to our guests who have shared their stories and their perspectives on this crisis. And, thank you for listening. We encourage you to educate yourself on the dangers of expired unwanted prescription drug, and then take action. Clean out your medicine cabinet today. It all starts with a visit to DisposeRx.com.
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.