Health insurer, law enforcement hope to take painkillers off street with secure drop boxes

Health insurer, law enforcement hope to take painkillers off street with secure drop boxes

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Law enforcement partners and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana are helping Louisiana residents dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.

The group, with help from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, has installed 29 secure drop boxes for unwanted prescriptions. The boxes are emptied and disposed of safely and correctly by law enforcement.

Studies show these kinds of pills are most often stolen from the homes of family members and friends.

"We're hoping to dispose of 10,000 pounds of pills this year through 29 drop boxes around the state," said Michael Tipton, president of the Blue Cross Foundation. "When you look at the research, it's clear that safely disposing of painkillers is one of the best weapons against patterns of addiction that often start at home."

The easy availability of painkillers like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone is the root of a rapid rise in abuse in Louisiana and around the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said that nationwide, the number of painkiller overdoses has quadrupled since 2000.

"When someone is treated for a severe injury or undergoes major surgery, there are usually prescription drugs left over," said Charlie Cichon, executive director of NADDI. "Our goal is providing a method of disposal that ensures medications don't end up in the wrong hands."

Blue Cross hopes to dispose of 10,000 pounds of potentially dangerous pills in 2016.

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