American Medicine Chest Challenge Raises Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse

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STATE – On Saturday, the American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC) — a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and a statewide day of disposal of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine — will be held in 100 communities throughout New Jersey, through the coordination of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey (SANJ).

AMCC was created to help New Jersey families see their medicine cabinets through new eyes — as an access point for potential misuse and abuse of over-the-counter and prescription medicine by young people and to provide an opportunity to properly dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicines and encourage families to take the five step American Medicine Chest Challenge, explained Angelo M. Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey and Chief Executive Officer of AMCC.

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“The Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey is proud to be a partner in the AMCC and helping to prevent the abuse of prescription and over the counter medicine by our children. By participating in the AMCC you will be safely and anonymously disposing of medications that are commonly abused,” said Frank Provanzano, president of SANJ.

“Prescription drug abuse is a serious threat to New Jersey families,” according to Valente. He noted that according to the recently released New Jersey Department of Education Annual Violence and Vandalism Report prescription drug abuse by New Jersey students has increased by 22% this year.

Valente explained, “41% of parents of New Jersey Middle School Students said they know little or just about nothing about prescription drug abuse, according to the PDFNJ 2010 Middle School Parent Tracking Study and only 4 in 10 parents secure their medicine chests.” He noted, “51% of parents in New Jersey said during that survey that they would like to protect their children by disposing of their unused, unwanted, and expired medicine during the American Medicine Chest Challenge and thanks to our law enforcement partners the Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey and local police departments, they have the opportunity to do so at their local collection site, between 10 am to 2 pm, on November 13, 2010 in over 100 communities. Collection sites are being coordinated by each county sheriff and hosted by local law enforcement in communities from Alpine to Millville, from Keansburg to Summit, and from Newton to Cape May, serving thousands of residents in every county in New Jersey.”

Information on local collection sites in each county is available on americanmedicinechest.com.

“The American Medicine Chest 5-step challenge will help save the lives of our children,” Valente said. “The steps include taking inventory of your medicine, securing your medicine chest, taking medicine only as prescribed by your doctor, disposing unused, unwanted, and expired medicine, and most importantly, talking to your children about the dangers of prescription drugs.”

SAMHSA’s 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, the same survey showed that the scale of the problem is vast: more than 6 million Americans used a prescription medication for nonmedical purposes in the past 30 days.  Valente added, “As alarming is the fact that, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, there has been a 400% increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for people abusing prescription drugs.”

According to Jeff Bond, Senior Vice President for State Government Affairs at PhRMA, an AMCC founding sponsor, “With prescription drug abuse on the rise, it is important to have safe solutions for consumer disposal of unused medicines in their own home or through a community program in order to avoid the possibility that someone steals or misuses that medication.“

American College of Emergency Physicians president, Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP, also an AMCC sponsor said, “Prescription drugs are the most abused drugs in America other than marijuana, and parents are the first line of defense between kids and the prescription medications.”

AMCC is also being supported by the Partnership at DrugFree.org, Generic Pharmaceutical Association, the Healthcare Institute of New Jersey, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, the New Jersey Prevention Network, and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. The parent organization of AMCC is the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey.

AMCC is based on the success of the nationally recognized Operation Medicine Cabinet New Jersey (OMC-NJ). OMC-NJ was the first in the nation statewide day of disposal, held in November 2009 with a one day, four-hour, state-wide event that netted over 9,000 lbs. of medicine, with a street value of over $35 million, while simultaneously garnering over a million dollars in in-kind media attention on the issue of prescription and over the counter drug abuse. The program was recognized in the 2010 Drug Strategy of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Association of Government Communicators.


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