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Southeast Texas Poison Center Engages in a Community Partnership to Address Prescription Drug Concerns

Staff from the Southeast Texas Poison Center and members of the Prescription Drug Advisory Committee with medication collected during a Medication Take Back Event.

The Southeast Texas Poison Center (SETPC) has recently taken an active role in addressing prescription drug misuse, abuse, and poisoning. Since February 2010, the SETPC has been a member of the Prescription Drug Advisory Committee (PDAC) of the Bay Area Alliance for Youth and Families (BAA) in the greater Houston area. This community partnership developed through the shared goal of reducing hazardous access to prescription medication. Through varied media efforts and in-person meetings, PDAC strives to play a strong role in the education of the public and legislators about medication safety issues, and promotion of public awareness and involvement. Its membership is comprised of representatives from the BAA, Friendswood Police Department, Texas Board of Pharmacy, Texas Attorney General’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Walgreens Pharmacies, and local physicians and dentists.

The PDAC has sponsored three Medication Take Back events in cooperation with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) and DEA. Over 375 community members have participated in three Medication Take Back events where over 1,250 lbs of unused or expired medications was collected–the most recovered by any event in the greater Houston area.  No identifying information was kept or recorded, but pills and liquids were counted and recorded online using the Pharmaceutical Collection and Monitoring System before disposal by DEA. PDAC anticipates hosting these Medication Take Back events twice a year – in the fall and spring.  

The PDAC is also dedicated to educating the community and lawmakers about the rising incidence of prescription drug abuse.  In September of 2010, the PDAC hosted a conference in Galveston, TX to provide an overview of the prescription drug problem as well as a legislative update for over 100 law enforcement officials and key community stakeholders.  The update included information about legislation to promote safe and effective medication prescribing, dispensing, and use. Speakers included a Texas State Senator; a district attorney; and the advocate founder of Parents Against Prescription Drug Abuse.  Plans for another Prescription Drug Conference are in the works for February 2012 and will highlight data and trends from the 2011 take back events.

Participation in the PDAC has proved to be a fruitful and rewarding partnership. The BAA presented SETPC Director, Jon Thompson with the “Community Champion Award” in June 2011 for his dedication to the committee and take back efforts. The SETPC continues to work in association with the PDAC to combat the growing risks associated with prescription drugs through a broad-based education program and expansion of the successful medication take back program.