30K opioid deactivation pouches being distributed in Minnesota

Published 10:13 am Monday, September 26, 2016

By David Chanen

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Hennepin County is on pace to break a dubious record in 2016.

Email newsletter signup

In the first six months of this year, more than 80 people died from an overdose of heroin and other opioids. And the epidemic doesn’t appear to be slowing, according to law enforcement, health care and treatment officials who met for a roundtable on drug abuse and diversion in the Twin Cities last week.

At the meeting, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a St. Louis-based company, announced the donation of 30,000 drug deactivation pouches that will be handed out to people locally who want to easily dispose of opioids at home.

Up to 1.35 million prescription pills, patches or liquid doses of opioids can be destroyed if every pouch is filled to its 45-pill capacity.

“These are alarming trends, and frankly law enforcement cannot solve this problem on our own,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who attended the roundtable. “We need public safety partners to help us overcome this deadly epidemic. We need residents, elected officials, community organizations, schools and parents, and the medical community to step up and help us turn these trends around.”

In the past year, Minneapolis-based Verde Technologies started distributing a drug deactivation pouch system that renders opioids ineffective for misuse and safe for disposal and the environment. It’s the only such product developed through a scientific research grant, said Verde President Jason Sundby.

The opioids are destroyed by adding water to the sealable pouch and simply throwing it away in the garbage. Mallinckrodt donated the 30,000 pouches locally as part of its initiative to give away 1 million total pouches nationwide. In Minnesota, the product has been supplied to retail pharmacies, health care providers, law enforcement agencies and treatment centers.

Opioids include prescription meds used to treat pain, such as morphine, codeine, methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and buprenorphine, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin. This month, the state Department of Human Services received a $1.6 million federal grant to prevent all facets of drug abuse.

“The cost to the people who become dependent on these powerful drugs — as well as the cost to their families, to the community and the state — is staggering,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper.