YORK, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--UnitedHealthcare, working with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and local care providers, is confronting the opioid epidemic by donating 10,000 opioid disposal kits to the Byrnes Health Education Center and Family First Health.
The disposal kits offer people a convenient way to remove unused opioids from their homes and prevent their misuse or diversion.
Over 60 percent of Americans with leftover opioid medications keep them in their homes, and 70 percent of people misusing opioid painkillers first got them from family or friends. The risk to children is also rising. A study published last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics found an 86 percent increase in calls to poison control centers related to children being exposed to opioids in recent years; more than 60 percent were children under age 5.
The Byrnes Health Education Center is raising awareness of the overdose epidemic among children through educational programs about the impact drugs can have on individuals, families and communities. UnitedHealthcare is providing the opioid disposal kits as one way to promote the safe disposal of opioids and to help prevent further deaths from these drugs; the kits were made possible thanks to a partnership with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
“Our goal is to give residents a safe, environmentally responsible way to dispose of unused pain medication,” said Heather Cianfrocco, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community & State. “Safe disposal is critical to fighting the opioid epidemic in the York community. Safe disposal is one important step in preventing opioids from being misused, and ultimately, in saving lives.”
“We celebrate UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to fighting back against the heroin and opioid epidemic that has been incredibly damaging to Pennsylvania’s communities,” said Gov. Wolf. “These drug disposal kits donated today will help us get rid of even more opioids and prescription pills, and potentially help stop opioid use disorder before it starts.”
Each opioid disposal kit deactivates up to 45 tablets or six opioid patches through this easy process:
1. Open the sealable pouch, which contains active carbon
2. Add unused medications and warm water as directed to the pouch
3. The carbon binds to the active drug ingredients and breaks the medication down
4. Seal the pouch and safely discard in your household garbage
Disposal kits are also being provided to Family First Health, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that was designated in 2016 by the Pennsylvania Department of Health as a Center of Excellence for opioid use disorder treatment. Promoting use of the kits is one component of a broader program between UnitedHealthcare and Family First Health to confront the opioid epidemic called the Opioid Community Partnership. UnitedHealthcare is launching the Community Partnership in 10 cities across the United States, including York, and Family First Health has been selected as the leading care provider partner for this community.
“Each day, we see how families are devastated by these highly addictive drugs,” said Jennifer Englerth, CEO of Family First Health. “These are our neighbors, friends and family members. I’m confident that, together with UnitedHealthcare, we will make meaningful progress against the opioid epidemic.”
More than 2 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid painkillers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In Pennsylvania, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported that more than 4,600 people died from overdoses in 2016 and an opioid was involved in 85 percent of those deaths.
For more information about UnitedHealthcare’s response to the opioid epidemic, visit https://newsroom.uhc.com/opioids.html.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.