Western New York is getting another tool in the fight against opioid addiction. Thousands of drug deactivation devices are available for anybody to pick up.
The kits are designed to keep people from getting addicted to opioids in the first place, by providing a safe way to dispose of unused and unwanted drugs.
Officials with the U.B. School of Pharmacy applied to get 20,000 of the kits delivered to Western New York. State Senator Chris Jacobs is trying to get them out to those in need.
“We reached out to the pharmacy school and said, ‘We’d love to partner with you to get these deactivation bags out in the community.’ We’re going to do that,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs will make the pouches available at his “Senator on your Street” events, which he holds each month. He’ll also bring them to two upcoming Narcan training events: on February 19th at the North Buffalo Community Center and on February 27th at the Brighton fire hall on Jamaica Rd. in Tonawanda.
The Senator says his staff will also mail the pouches out to anybody who calls his office and requests one.
The bags include activated charcoal which, when combined with water, deactive the drugs. The bags, which are biodegradable, can then be thrown out in the trash.
“(It’s) very simple,” said U.B. School of Pharmacy student Anna Augostini. “It takes about a minute total. Anyone can do it. The directions are right on the back.”
There have been about 700 fatal opioid overdoses in Erie County since the beginning of 2016, according to data shared by the county’s Department of Health. Experts at the School of Pharmacy point out opioid addiction often starts with legitimate prescriptions. They say the bags offer users of those prescriptions a way to get rid of the drugs, that doesn’t involve flushing them down the toilet.
“We don’t recommend that anymore because it gets in the waterways,” said Karl Fiebelkorn, the Senior Associate Dean for Student, Professional, and Community Affairs at U.B.’s School of Pharmacy.