Akron -- Properly disposing of unused prescription medication is a crucial step in drug abuse prevention, and Summit County and Acme Fresh Market are launching a program aimed at making that easier for residents.

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals "has purchased and donated 40,000 drug deactivation pouches to the Summit County Community Partnership," said Darryl Brake, the partnership's executive director, at an Aug. 31 press conference in the Summit County Public Health auditorium.

"The pouches provide a safe and responsible method for consumers to dispose of leftover prescription medication and prevent pills from being found and used for non-medical purposes."

"Prescription drugs are designed to heal, not harm," said Kevin Webb, director of advocacy relations for Mallinckrodt.

"But today, unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is one of our nation's greatest health concerns. Safe drug disposal is critically important in the fight to keep these unused medications out of the wrong hands."

The specially-formulated bags deactivate prescription drugs and make chemical compounds safe for landfills.

"Put unused medications into your pouch, add water, seal it up and dispose of it in your household trash," said Webb.

TWELVE thousand of the pouches will be available free of charge at Acme Fresh Market's Northeast Ohio pharmacies.

"We have 16 locations; customers visit our stores two and a half times a week. So it's a great place to provide this amazing product that safely disposes of prescription drugs," said Jim Trout, president of Acme Fresh Market.

Customers can also consult with Acme pharmacists about the pouches and prescription drug safety.

"Acme Fresh Market sought a leadership role in this project," Brake said.

Pouches will also be distributed to senior centers and area families, again at no cost.

"In coming weeks and months, we will work / to get these pouches into the hands of seniors, patients, parents and families in Akron and Summit County to use for disposing of unused, expired and unwanted medications," Brake said.

"We believe these medical disposal systems can save lives, by deactivating unused prescription opiates, thereby keeping them out of the hands of our children, would-be thieves, and those who are suffering from addiction," said James Hardy, chief of staff for the city of Akron.

"This problem is something that's really impacting our community," said Jerry Craig, executive director of the Summit County ADM Board.

"IN THE first six months of this year, there were 525 overdoses in Summit County. But in the past two months, we eclipsed that number with 723 more overdoses in Summit County, an average of more than 12 a day.

"Worst yet, we've experienced a large number of deaths, averaging anywhere between two and three per day."

"At the local level, the opioid abuse epidemic is persistent, it's pervasive and it's deeply personal," Hardy said. "For our first responders, it's not just a call for service, it's often a neighbor or a family friend /

"Current and former addicts are valuable human beings whom other human beings love. They are our brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, our sons and our daughters.

"And together through partnerships like these, we can reduce the stigma of addiction [and] continue to expand prevention and treatment services together."

"The donation of 40,000 drug deactivation pouches marks an important step in our fight to combat addiction in our communities, especially here in Summit County," U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said in a release from the Community Partnership.

"Eliminating unused prescription pain pills in our homes and communities will help lower the amount of pills being sold on the streets."

More information on the program can be found at www.cpsummit.org.

Email: sshriner@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4174