• 36°

Attorney General Swanson encourages Minn. to get rid of unwanted painkillers, other meds

By Emma Sapong

MPR.org/90.1 FM

Minnesotans can drop off unwanted prescription medicine free and anonymously Saturday at a record number of designated sites around the state.

More than 90 law enforcement agencies at 114 locations will collect unwanted painkillers and other medications as part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

With the ongoing opioid crisis, state officials say getting rid of extra drugs could save lives.

Attorney General Lori Swanson is encouraging Minnesotans to participate. She said nearly 80 percent of people who misuse opioids get them from friends and family members.

“The best way to keep prescription drugs from being diverted from people for whom they are not prescribed is to get rid of them,” she said. “Get them out of your house, get them out of your medicine cabinet.”

The increased focus on prescription drug disposal comes as the state grapples with its highest number of opioid-abuse related deaths.

In 2015, at least 338 people in Minnesota died after taking opioids. That figure has climbed steadily since 1999.

Dr. Kurt Devine of Little Falls said that medical professionals who prescribe painkillers can play a crucial role in curbing the abuse of opioids.

“If we hone our prescribing practices perfectly, there shouldn’t be a lot of pills extra out there for people to abuse,” he said.

Devine is part of program in Morrison County that monitors prescriptions. He said it cut 100,000 pills out of the community last year.

There’s a proposed bill in the Minnesota House to implement a similar program statewide.

For more information or to find a nearby drop-off site go to the state’s Dose of Reality webpage.

Austin has a medication dropbox in the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center, 201 First St. NE.