By Morgan Bryce
Through a partnership with healthcare technology giant Inmar, East Alabama Medical Center announced the launch of a drug take-back program last week to combat the ongoing opioid crisis that exists in Alabama.
During a press conference held Aug. 13, EAMC Director of Pharmacy Services Chuck Beams said the initiative is the result of a growing demand for such a program in the Opelika-Auburn area.
“We’ve been receiving (a lot of) requests in the last year as the opioid crisis has grown, to take back medications, whether it be controlled substances or non-controlled substances,” Beams said. “We wanted to provide an avenue for that, so we registered with the DEA and we’re now able to take drugs back on site.”
The hospital has placed a bright-green receptacle in its main lobby to serve as a safe drop-off spot for patrons. There, people can drop off their “leftover, unused and out-of-date prescription and over-the-counter medications,” except for inhalers and needles.
Beams added that another box will be placed at EAMC’s Valley campus, Lanier Hospital.
Representatives from local law enforcement agencies were present at the event, including Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes, Sheriff Jay Jones and Opelika Police Department Chief John McEachern.
Hughes and Jones shared their thoughts on the program and what value it serves for the community at-large.
“When people ask me about how this stuff is on the street, I tell them that I have yet to prosecute a pharmacy burglary, which tells me that these drugs are getting out there legally,” Hughes said. “It’s certainly not going to put an end to this thing, but I believe it has the ability to put a dent into it.”
“(The opioid crisis) is not an issue that we deal with everyday, but it is a problem. There’s no denying that,” Jones said. “We’re seeing it across the country, and in some areas, it’s become an epidemic. We want to try to prevent that here, and with initiatives like this, we’re working to address it and keep it from becoming too much of a problem.”
Jones added that the Smiths Station Government Center has its own take-back receptacle, which is located at 2336 Lee Road 430.
For more information, visit www.eamc.org. The Opelika campus is located at 2000 Pepperell Parkway.