URBANDALE - A local nonprofit has an innovative approach to fight against Iowa's growing drug abuse problem.
SafeNetRx's drug donation program is in the spotlight, as this weekend marks a nation-wide drug "take-back" - an effort to get rid of leftover prescription drugs. The annual event hopes to prevent drug abuse across the country, as the problem in Iowa continues to grow.
SafeNetRx takes in dozens of bins full of prescription medications every week. They get them from long-term care pharmacies, clinics, nursing homes and even some individuals. They say they are working to put those medications to good use by bringing those prescriptions to Iowans in need called "safety net patients." Those are people with household incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
"These are individuals who are low income and without our assistance would not be able to afford their medications," said Jon Rosmann, the Executive Director of SafeNetRx.
Rosmann says all the medications they get are closely monitored and each pill, capsule and tablet is fully sealed and unused. He says those safeguards are especially important in the midst of Iowa's growing opioid problem.
"We don't want to see these drugs get into the hands of children or other individuals in the household that may not be using the medications appropriately," Rosmann said.
Studies show nearly 80 Americans die every day from drug overdoses.
"Any unused drug can be subject to abuse," said Steve Lukan, the Director of the Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy.
Lukan says stopping the opioid crisis starts with getting even non-addictive drugs, like those donated to SafeNetRx, off the streets.
"These are oftentimes very powerful drugs," Lukan said. "People will think maybe they're safe because they came from a hospital or they came from a doctor's office, but they have very very serious effects."
And SafeNetRx hopes their efforts stretch far beyond the State of Iowa, and hope to bring their model across the country.
"There needs to be a mechanism in place to be able to do something meaningful with these drugs and dispose of them correctly," Rosmann said.
SafeNetRx says their drug donation program is also good for the environment because many of the drugs given to them would usually be flushed into Iowa water systems.
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