At the urging of a New Hampshire family who lost their son to an overdose, Granite Health system is planning a new campaign to encourage people to safely dispose of leftover prescription drugs — its goal, and title, is “Zero Left.”
Since their son, Adam, died from an apparent fentanyl overdose in 2015, Jim and Jeanne Moser of East Kingston have made it their life’s work to educate others about the importance of safely disposing of extra medication.
Speaking to NHPR earlier this year, the Mosers said they learned only after Adam’s death that he began using leftover prescription medication stored in their own home.
“We had them in our kitchen spin-around,” Jim recalled. “Right next to the salt... pepper... opioids... cake sprinkles... Absurd, you know? Because we didn't think anything of it. We just kept them around like an Aspirin. And that's not the thing to do. So Adam got ahold of those. That was part of the whole thing, but certainly a contributor.”
Doctor Travis Harker, Chief Medical Officer at Granite Health, says Adam’s story is all too common.
“When Jim first talked to us about his son’s experience with opioids and their loss with an overdose, it really struck us that Jim’s son is like so many other people — they get their start with opioids through a prescription medication,” Harker said.
As part of an effort to give people safe ways to get rid of extra prescription drugs, Harker says Granite Health will install takeback boxes at three of its locations by the end of the year: Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, LRG Healthcare in Laconia and Wentworth Douglass in Dover.
All Granite Health hospitals except Concord Hospital will also start offering drug deactivation pouches to allow patients to safely dispose of their extra medication at home, Harker said.
Neither initiative has officially launched, but Harker says they will likely be in place by the end of the year. From there, Harker says the health network will be monitoring the program closely, with an eye toward whether to expand these initiatives even further.
The project is funded through a $75,000 grant in partnership with the Tufts Health Freedom Plan and Northeast Delta Dental. Part of the grant money will also be put toward training prescribers throughout the Granite Health network to prescribe opioids responsibly, in line with standards adopted by state medical and dental boards last year.
“Opioids play an important role in healthcare. They are important for managing pain in the acute setting and at times in the chronic setting,” Harker said. “Doing them right, in the safest way, not only for the individual but also for the community is really important, and that’s what we’re really trying to do.”