- HCA Florida is hosting a drug take-back program at its HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital in conjunction with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
- The event seeks to inform the public of the dangers of opioid misuse, also allowing individuals to anonymously dispose of unused or expired medication
- In 2021, 96 HCA Healthcare facilities in 17 states collected 15,566 pounds of unused and expired prescription medications at last year’s event across the nation
HCA Florida will host a drug take-back program at its HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital in conjunction with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Taking place Oct. 29, the event aims to raise awareness about the dangers of opioid misuse and the importance of safe and proper disposal of unused or expired medications.
The event coincides with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and allows individuals to anonymously dispose of unused or expired medication.
“Pasadena Hospital has seen firsthand the devastating consequences of drug misuse and abuse,” said Dr. Ron Rasmussen, Chief Medical Officer of HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital. “As a leading healthcare provider in St. Petersburg, we believe it is vital to increase awareness of this important issue and offer our community a safe way to dispose of medications to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.”
Law enforcement officers from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will be collecting tablets, capsules, and patches of Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Tramadol, Codeine, Fentanyl, Morphine, Hydromorphone, and Oxymorphone.
96 HCA Healthcare facilities in 17 states collected 15,566 pounds of unused and expired prescription medications at last year’s event across the nation.
“Addressing the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the state,” said Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke. “In 2021, almost 8,000 people in Florida lost their lives to drug overdoses, the highest one-year total ever recorded in our state.”
Fatal drug overdose prevention has been a chief issue for state leaders of late, as local communities statewide are facing the effects of opioid distribution.
The Florida Department of Health in August announced an initiative to ensure readily available access to naloxone, commonly known by its brand name Narcan, in all 67 counties.
Naloxone is an overdose response medication that could reduce thousands of substance abuse deaths across the state through its county health departments.
Further, Attorney General Ashley Moody last month led a national consortium of bipartisan Attorneys General, who collectively wrote to President Joe Biden to request a declaration of fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.
In the letter, the AGs declare that fentanyl is compounding the national mortality toll, which has climbed dramatically in recent years.
The illicit substances were found to have been mostly manufactured in Mexico and trafficked across the border to hub cities like Atlanta before making their way to smaller cities and towns across the country.
Should the substance be deemed as such, it would require federal departments like the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department, and Pentagon to work in tandem to combat the opioid crisis, presumptuously expediting the already existing response efforts.
“Currently, fentanyl is exacerbating the death toll increasing exponentially every year for the last several years. The purpose of this letter is to propose an unorthodox solution that may help abate or at least slow the crisis’s trajectory while also protecting Americans from a mass casualty event from fentanyl,” Moody’s letter reads.