Pill bags let users dispose of prescription drugs safely

Disposal pouch that makes drugs inert being distributed free in Montgomery County.


Expired prescription drugs can pose a danger to the public and the environment, so how do you dispose of them properly?

Montgomery County may have an answer.

A new drug disposal pouch, undergoing review by the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS), renders old drugs nearly inert — useless to a user — and safe for landfill disposal.

Though not the biggest weapon mounted against the region’s opioid epidemic, the pouches also decrease the likelihood old pills will be diverted to addicts, said Joyce Jones, director of marketing for Ziks Family Pharmacy in Dayton that received an initial stock of 60 bags from ADAMHS to distribute free to patrons.

“The whole idea is to be able to quickly get rid of meds so they’re not laying around the home,” Jones said.

Named Deterra, the pouches come in sizes to deactivate from 15 to 450 pills. The bags are made out of recycled material designed to biodegrade in a landfill.

How it works

The bags contain a proprietary form of activated carbon. When mixed with water, the carbon neutralizes 98 percent of a drug’s potency, according to the manufacturer.

Brenda Screws, a Ziks pharmacist, said warm tap water added to the pouch activates the charcoal and deactivates the drugs’ main ingredients.

“It loses its strength and basically decomposes,” she said.

ADAMHS purchased 400 Deterra Drug Deactivation System bags to distribute free at events and through two Dayton pharmacies: Dayton Pharmacy and Ziks.

The ADAMHS board will vote Wednesday how to divvy up a $50,000 Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services grant earmarked for the purchase of the bags and drug lock boxes.

‘A very dangerous thing’

Cost to the county of each 45-pill bag bag ran $2.79 said Ann Stevens, spokeswoman for ADAMHS.

Studies show about 60 percent of people of people who abuse medications get them from family and friends.

“A lot of the problem with unused medications is that people can get a hold of them,” Stevens said. “Having unused medications in your home is a very dangerous thing.” 

Don’t flush

Many people mistakenly believe it’s safe to flush unused medications down a toilet. However, old prescriptions disposed of in a city sewer or rural septic system are sure to escape into nature, said Ohio EPA spokeswoman Dina Pierce.

“Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to fully remove pharmaceuticals, which means chemicals in the drugs are discharged into waterways where they may affect wildlife and human health,” Pierce said.

While the bags offer one solution, Ohio EPA officials also recommend dropping unused or expired medications at take-back programs offered by most law enforcement agencies and pharmacies, as well as collection events. If drugs must be put in the garbage, they should be made unpalatable by mixing first with cat litter or coffee grounds, Pierce said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Rain continues into the morning; wet commute, reduced visibility expected
Rain continues into the morning; wet commute, reduced visibility expected

Rain returns this morning, chance storm Rounds of rain continue into weekend Flood threat lingers TODAY: Rain with the chance for a few thunderstorms will continue to move into the Miami Valley this morning. The commute will likely be wet so drivers should slow down and watch for pockets of heavy rain that could drop visibility. A very...
Driver extricated, highway reopens after crash on SB I-75 
Driver extricated, highway reopens after crash on SB I-75 

UPDATE @ 3:40 a.m: All lanes on southbound I-75 have reopened following a crash early Wednesday morning. UPDATE @ 3:03 a.m: After nearly two hours, the driver of a vehicle that went off the road on southbound I-75 has been extricated from the vehicle. The interstate has been shut down for over an hour between Needmore Road and Wagner Ford Road...
Michelle Obama praises 'Black Panther' on Twitter: 'I loved this movie'
Michelle Obama praises 'Black Panther' on Twitter: 'I loved this movie'

Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted a shoutout Monday to the new Marvel superhero film, “Black Panther.” “Congrats to the entire #blackpanther team!” she tweeted. “Because of you, young people will finally see superheroes that look like them on the big screen. I loved this movie and I know it will inspire...
WPAFB Wednesday Weather: On, off rain showers through the day 
WPAFB Wednesday Weather: On, off rain showers through the day 

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE—Rain will start the day today with on and off showers lasting through the day, said Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell. Temperatures will be warmer in the morning but fall through the 50s into the 40s this afternoon. A quick break in the precipitation is expected this afternoon before another wave of...
Weeping yaupon, like a living piece of art
Weeping yaupon, like a living piece of art

The weeping yaupon holly is beyond stunning right now. No, the weeping plant wasn’t nuked or genetically modified to obtain that graceful appearance. It was found naturally and native and then simply propagated vegetatively by cutting. Yaupons are native geographically in almost a third of North America. Botanically speaking they are Known as...
More Stories