Christie Administration Dedicates the State's 100th "Project Medicine Drop" Box at the Teaneck Police Department
TEANECK - Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today joined with Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve C. Lee to dedicate New Jersey's 100th Project Medicine Drop box at the Teaneck Police Department, and announced the program's expansion to a total of 102 police departments, sheriff's offices, and State Police barracks across New Jersey.
"We are expanding Project Medicine Drop in response to an overwhelming demand from law enforcement agencies that want to engage directly with their communities in the fight against opiate abuse," Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. "We are seeing an equally strong and growing demand from New Jersey residents who understand the potential dangers posed by unused medications, and who wish to dispose of them safely and securely."
Project Medicine Drop will become three years old on November 14, 2014. Since its launch with just three police departments, New Jerseyans have dropped off a total of 36,533 pounds, or 18.3 tons, of unwanted medications. Of that total, 48 percent was dropped off during the first three quarters of 2014 alone. The program's reach has grown considerably, with 17,417 pounds of unused medicines dropped off so far this year, 12,216 pounds in 2013 and 6,500 pounds in 2012.
"Project Medicine Drop gives New Jerseyans a safe and environmentally sound way to dispose of medications, and more and more residents are using it to get rid of their unneeded drugs," Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said.
In September 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it held its final National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. New DEA regulations published in September allow pharmacies and other entities, in addition to law enforcement agencies, to collect unwanted and potentially harmful controlled substance medications. Programs like Project Medicine Drop will continue to provide opportunities by which New Jerseyans may dispose of these unused medications at authorized collection sites. The Division of Consumer Affairs looks forward to working with other entities that may wish to become DEA-registered collection sites under these new Federal guidelines.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said, "Bergen County has 15 Project Medicine Drop locations, more than any other county in New Jersey. We have been very active in the fight against heroin and prescription drug abuse. Our county's deep commitment to Project Medicine Drop is a testament to the efforts of the Bergen County Department of Health Service and Bergen County Municipal Alliance Program."
Through Project Medicine Drop, the Division of Consumer Affairs installs secure prescription drug drop boxes at participating police departments across New Jersey, allowing consumers to safely dispose of their unused prescription medications. Members of the public are invited to drop off their medicines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, anonymously and with no questions asked.
Teaneck Police Acting Chief Robert A. Carney said, "We are proud to bring Project Medicine Drop to our community and give Teaneck residents the opportunity to safely and securely dispose of their unused medications. Direct engagement with the public is an important key to preventing and reducing the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs."
The abuse and diversion of CDS medications, including oxycodone and other opiate painkillers, are major contributors to the opiate crisis, in which addiction to prescription pills has served as a gateway drug for heroin. Project Medicine Drop protects public health and safety by keeping unused medications from becoming available to those who might abuse them. It protects the environment, giving New Jerseyans a safe disposal option besides flushing drugs into the water supply or dumping them into landfills. It also encourages New Jerseyans to become fully aware of the dangers that beneficial medications can cause when misused.
In a partnership endorsed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Covanta Energy, a nationwide operator of energy-from-waste and renewable energy facilities, destroys the dropped-off medications from across New Jersey at no cost to taxpayers or to the police departments that participate in Project Medicine Drop. This potentially saves each participating police department thousands of dollars per year.
Meeting the demand by local law enforcement and drug prevention groups, the Division of Consumer Affairs has placed at least one Project Medicine Drop box in each of New Jersey's 21 counties.
Bergen, the most populous county, is also the largest participant in Project Medicine Drop with a total of 15 boxes at participating police departments. This number is largely due to the very active promotion of Project Medicine Drop by the Bergen County Department of Health Service, its Office of Alcohol and Drug Dependency, and the Bergen County Municipal Alliance Program. The county with the second-largest count of Project Medicine Drop locations is Ocean, with 11 drop boxes, followed by Monmouth, with eight.
New Jerseyans can find the statewide map of all 102 Project Medicine Drop boxes at the Division's
Project Medicine Drop website. The Division of Consumer Affairs plans to install additional Project Medicine Drop boxes at participating agencies in the near future.
The expansion of Project Medicine Drop is the latest in the Attorney General's and Division of Consumer Affairs' comprehensive strategy to fight the diversion and abuse of opiates.
Other elements include, but are not limited to:
- The creation of the
Pain Management Council, an advisory body that will help the Division of Consumer Affairs develop best practice recommendations for New Jersey's healthcare professionals. The goal is to create voluntary guidelines that will enable prescribers to provide pain management, while maintaining effective controls to prevent drug diversion and abuse.
- The expansion of the
New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP), to include direct data-sharing with the PMPs maintained by the States of Connecticut and Delaware, and efforts to build a similar data-sharing partnership with New York State. To date, approximately 41 percent of New Jersey's eligible prescribers and pharmacists are registered as users of the NJPMP. This statewide database tracks the prescription sale of all drugs classified as Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS) or Human Growth Hormone into New Jersey.
- New, mandatory security requirements for
New Jersey prescription blanks. Prescribers will be required to exclusively use the new prescription blanks as of November 3, 2014.
- The Division's May 2013 adoption of a fully modern set of
Best Practices for Pharmacy Security as recommendations for voluntary compliance by New Jersey's pharmacies. The Division developed the Best Practices for Pharmacy Security after bringing pharmacy industry, regulatory, and law enforcement groups together for two Pharmacy Security Summit meetings in 2012.
In 2013, New Jersey saw nearly 6,700 admissions to State-licensed or certified substance abuse treatment programs due to prescription drug abuse, an increase of nearly 300 percent over the past decade. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 6.8 million Americans currently abuse pharmaceutical controlled substances – almost twice as much as the combined number of those who use cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin, and/or inhalants.
Nearly 110 Americans die every day from drug-related overdoses, and about half of those overdoses are related to opioids, a class of drug that includes prescription painkillers and heroin.
For more information on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs' initiative to halt the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, view the Division's
NJPMP website, and the Division's
Project Medicine Drop website.
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