To fight fentanyl, we must prioritize primary prevention
Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc. CEO Jason Sundby responds to President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union
Last night, President Biden’s State of the Union speech addressed a host of pressing issues facing our nation—including the increasingly deadly impact of fentanyl.
Today, potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the largest contributor to overdose deaths and the many non-fatal overdoses that impact our communities. Fentanyl has been declared the “single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered” by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In his address, the president acknowledged that “fentanyl is killing more than 70,000 Americans a year” and called for enhanced efforts to stop illicit fentanyl from entering the U.S.
Curbing illicit fentanyl production and trafficking is critical to stemming the influx of this deadly drug, but we must also focus our efforts here at home.
Opioid dependence often starts in the home medicine cabinet. In his address, President Biden shared the experience of Doug, a father whose daughter, Courtney, discovered pills in high school and later lost her life to a fentanyl overdose. Courtney’s story is not uncommon: nearly 80% of heroin users used prescription opioids prior to heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Evidence-based prevention resources like at-home drug deactivation and disposal tools can help stop opioid misuse before it starts and lower the supply of drugs available for misuse, theft and overdose.
Our company, Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., makes the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System, an at-home drug disposal system that safely destroys prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as fentanyl and most illicit drugs. Organizations across the country provide the Deterra System to their communities to remove the risk of drug misuse and fight overdoses.
In Summit County, Ohio, providing at-home drug deactivation pouches was part of a comprehensive approach to reducing drug misuse and overdoses. Over the three years of the project, the county’s overdose deaths decreased by 56%.
Several states have recognized the impact of proper at-home disposal, with bills mandating co-prescribing a drug deactivation pouch alongside opioids being introduced in New York, Maryland, and Connecticut.
With Deterra an eligible expense for opioid settlement funds and many federal and local grants, there is ample opportunity to make evidence-based at-home drug deactivation and disposal solutions part of prevention efforts nationwide.
We call on national and local leaders to make primary prevention a top priority by implementing the following strategies:
- Mandating patient education and co-dispensing a drug deactivation pouch whenever opioids are prescribed. Patients who are prescribed powerful opioids should be given a drug deactivation pouch to safely destroy unused medication as soon as it’s no longer needed. Patients must be educated on proper opioid use and the dangers of misuse, including the potential for addiction, overdose, or death.
- Using opioid settlement funds for primary prevention. Allocate state and local opioid settlement funds to the purchase and distribution of evidence-based prevention tools like at-home drug deactivation and disposal options.
- Expanding grant programs to include proper at-home drug disposal. Communities should have the flexibility to address addiction in the way that best suits their population. Prevention activities like proper at-home drug disposal must be eligible for federal, state, and local funds intended to fight the opioid epidemic.
We thank the president and Congress for their continued commitment to addressing substance misuse and the overdose epidemic. We urge community leaders to make primary prevention a key part of their local plans.
Jason Sundby is CEO of Verde Environmental Technologies, Inc., maker of the Deterra® Drug Deactivation and Disposal System. For more information, visit: https://DeterraSystem.com