Guthrie Introduces New Measures to Tackle Prescription Medication Abuse

As the number of local and regional deaths from narcotics and prescription medications grow, Guthrie is introducing new measures to help tackle the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. 

It has now installed Sharps Compliance, Inc. MedSafe ® drug disposal units in its main outpatient pharmacy in Sayre, and at Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital, for the safe and anonymous disposal of unused or expired medicines and controlled substances. It has also begun to stock abuse-deterrent opioid medications for patients managing long term pain. 

Dr. Jason Granet, Chief of Guthrie Trauma and Critical Care Services said: “Across the country, there has been a sharp rise in the number of prescription drug-related overdoses and deaths. At Guthrie, we have been looking at ways in which we can remove these drugs from circulation, ensuring that only the patients who need these medications have access to them. As well as the MedSafe units, Guthrie is now stocking abuse deterrent opioid medication for chronic pain management that contain both a physical and chemical barrier that prevents them from being crushed, injected or otherwise tampered with.”

“As health care providers, we are incredibly concerned by the number of drug related incidents that we are seeing in our Emergency Departments.  We will continue to work with other agencies to tackle the issue of addiction in our community.”

Michael Gum, Guthrie System Director of Pharmacy also spoke to the benefits of discarding unused or expired prescription drugs: "Safe and proper disposal of unused medicines is an good way to help prevent things like accidental poisoning, particularly in children, and to keep medications out of waste streams and the water supply. It also plays an important role in reducing the risk of antibiotic resistant infections. Using antibiotics inappropriately, such as taking them for an illness without specific instructions from a provider, can lead to the build up of antibiotic resistance, or can contribute to unintended infections like C. diff, an antibiotic resistant infection. Getting these drugs out of your medicine cabinet helps to prevent the temptation for you or others in your household to take partial courses in the future.”  

The Guthrie Clinic Pharmacy in Sayre, Pa. and Guthrie Towanda Memorial Hospital in Towanda, Pa. now have MedSafe drug disposal boxes, and a box will soon be installed at Guthrie Corning Hospital. The boxes are available for the public to use during pharmacy hours. The boxes are locked and resemble mail boxes. To use them, unused or expired medications should be left in the packaging or placed into clear, Ziplock bags, and dropped through the slot. There is no need to include information about the medications.

“Safe disposal of prescription medication is a vital strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse and keeping the water supply safe,” said David P. Tusa, president and chief executive officer of Sharps Compliance, Inc. “We are thrilled to partner with Guthrie to help provide a convenient method for the Sayre community to dispose of their unwanted medications through the MedSafe collection receptacles.”

Items that can be placed in the MedSafe boxes include pills; ointments/creams; powders; nebulizer solutions; and liquid medicines that have less than 4 oz. Items that should not be placed in the box include needles, aerosol cans or other medical supplies.

Guthrie is a non-profit integrated health system located in north central Pennsylvania and Upstate New York, serving patients from an 11-county service area. Guthrie is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, and is the first health system based in Pennsylvania and New York to join this network. Guthrie is comprised of a research institute, home care/hospice, hospitals in Sayre, Pa., Corning, N.Y., Towanda, Pa., and Troy, Pa., as well as a multi-specialty group practice of more than 290 physicians and 175 mid-level providers in a regional office network encompassing sub-specialty and primary care sites in 23 communities throughout Pennsylvania and New York.  Guthrie offers a wide range of services and programs designed to enhance the health and well-being of those it serves.