Salt Lake City — With prescription drug-related fatalities on the rise again in Utah, Intermountain Healthcare and the state’s prevention campaign, Use Only As Directed, have joined forces to educate the public about the health crisis and encourage Utahns to save lives — not medications.
Leaders from Intermountain and the Utah Department of Health announced the partnership and availability of new, permanent medication disposal drop boxes at Intermountain Community Pharmacy locations across the state. Intermountain will provide $300,000 in each of the next three years to help fund the campaign. “Through a three-pronged effort of public awareness, provider education and treatment services, we aim to reduce misuse and abuse of prescription medications among our patients and within the communities in which we operate,” says Mikelle Moore, Vice President of Community Benefit for Intermountain.
More deaths in Utah are caused by prescription medication overdoses than car crashes. Public health officials report that over 300 adults in Utah died from unintentional prescription drug overdoses in 2013. “Changing the public’s attitude to be less tolerant of the non-medical use of prescription medications is key to reducing misuse and abuse,” says Dr. Robert Rolfs, Deputy Director of the Utah Department of Health. “We are excited about the potential to reach a larger audience with this important health safety message through the support of Intermountain Healthcare.”
The partnership with Intermountain will also feature signage and a pill bottle graphic on the bottom of every prescription receipt that promotes following medication instructions exactly; large pill bottle hourglasses on pharmacy countertops that encourage a conversation between patient and pharmacist about safe use and disposal of prescription medications; and lapel buttons worn by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians reminding patrons not to share their prescription medications.
“We’re placing these messages in all our Community Pharmacy locations to remind Utahns that while prescription medications can be a powerful, healing tool, they also have very real dangers when not used as your doctor and pharmacist direct,” says Nannette Berensen, Assistant Vice President of Pharmacy Services for Intermountain.
The Use Only As Directed campaign, a collaboration between federal, state, city, county and private businesses, was launched in 2008 and is dedicated to reducing unintentional overdose deaths by educating Utahns about the proper use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs via TV, radio, Internet and community outreach messages. For more information, visit UseOnlyAsDirected.org.