Blue Cross Encourages Louisianians to Be Mindful of Drug Safety
BATON ROUGE – As families are spending more time in their homes, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana urges everyone to be aware of medication safety. Know which prescription and over-the-counter drugs are in your home, make sure they are stored properly and clear out any unused or expired medications. This can prevent misuse, abuse or overdose.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 25, and while no in-person events are taking place because of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, it is an opportunity to raise awareness of safety guidelines.
“Children are out of school right now and are spending more time at home than usual, so it’s important to know which medications we have around and make sure children can’t easily get to them,” said Blue Cross Senior Medical Director Dr. Deirdre Barfield.
“In addition to protecting children, storing drugs safely keeps our pets from eating them, and it can prevent our prescriptions from being stolen or falling into the wrong hands,” Barfield said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 75,000 children ages 18 and under visit an emergency room each year because of medication accidents. More than 80% of those visits happened when an unsupervised child found and took a drug.
The CDC says that adverse drug events cause more than one million emergency room visits each year and recommends families keep their household drugs (especially prescription painkillers), vitamins and herbal supplements in a safe place that children or pets can’t get into. It’s also important to be aware of who may have access to drugs in your home.
As for those old, leftover and expired drugs, it’s best to clear them out. Blue Cross partners with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and law enforcement offices throughout the state to install drug drop boxes. These boxes are a secure, anonymous way for people to safely get rid of their unused or expired drugs, which can prevent them from being stolen or misused. See a map of these locations to find one close to you.
Secure disposal is the best way to get rid of unused drugs, and people who cannot leave their homes should safely store them until they can go to a drop box site. If that is not an option, and you need to dispose of drugs immediately, follow these guidelines for safely getting rid of drugs in your household trash:
- Mix the medicines with an unpleasant substance, such as dirt, used kitty litter or used coffee grounds, so it’s less appealing to children or pets.
- Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or other disposable container.
- Throw the container in your household trash.
Visit Blue Cross’ prescription drug safety site for more information. Louisianians who are concerned about drug safety should ask their healthcare providers or pharmacists for advice. Other drug safety resources include:
- The CDC’s medication safety information page
- The American Association of Poison Control Centers
- The National Poison Control Hotline, 1-800-222-1222
You can visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube page to see short videos with the clinical team and others discussing drug safety and other health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can also connect with Blue Cross on social media for regular updates.
For information on what Blue Cross is doing for members during the COVID-19 situation, visit www.bcbsla.com/covid19.