NJ to Lead Response to Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic


For Immediate Release:
November 10, 2011

Angela Conover, Media Relations 
201-916-1030 (c) 973-467-2138 (office)   

New Jersey to Lead Response to Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic
Unused, Unwanted, and Expired Medicine Disposal locations to be held in all 21 Counties Saturday 

TRENTON --- The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) and Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey (SANJ), today kicked-off the second annual American Medicine Chest Challenge-New Jersey, at a statehouse press conference. 

The American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC) --- a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse will provide an opportunity for residents to dispose of their unused, unwanted, and expired medicine at collection sites in over 50 communities throughout New Jersey on November 12, 2011 between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm.

The New Jersey event is being coordinated by PDFNJ, SANJ, the New Jersey National Guard, and Drug Enforcement Administration – New Jersey, with the support of the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (GCADA), New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS), The New Jersey Broadcasters Association and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. 

This initiative will challenge New Jersey residents to take the Five-Step American Medicine Chest Challenge:

•Take inventory of your prescription and over-the-counter medicine. 
•Lock your medicine chest. 
•Dispose of your unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in your home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge Disposal site. 
•Take your medicine(s) exactly as prescribed. 
•Talk to your children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently labeled prescription drug abuse an epidemic, reporting that the death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade and more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, 70 percent of people who abuse prescription pain relievers obtained them from friends or relatives, and, there has been a 400% increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for people abusing prescription drugs.

AMCC Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the PDFNJ, Angelo M. Valente, explained, “the goal of this community based public health initiative is to inform New Jersey families of the need to dispose of their unused, unwanted, and expired medicine because these excess medicines can be a danger lurking in the family home.”

“The American Medicine Chest 5-Step Challenge will help save the lives of your children,” Valente explained.

“A survey last year revealed that 60 percent of New Jersey middle schoolers admitted to misusing prescription drugs they got from their homes or homes of their friends and relatives,” DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez said, noting that the Department recently awarded $3.6 million in contracts to 17 regional coalitions for evidence-based prevention programs. “Discarding outdated, or unused prescription medication helps remove opportunities for experimentation that can lead to dangerous outcomes.”

"We encourage New Jerseyans to take advantage of this opportunity to dispose of their unused prescription drugs safely and securely," Thomas R. Calcagni, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said.  "As the agency charged with protecting the state's consumers, we fully support the American Medicine Chest Challenge in the effort to halt the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs."

Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano, president of SANJ, explained, “The Sheriffs’ Association of New Jersey is proud to be taking a leadership role is the important lifesaving initiative for New Jersey residents. The SANJ will coordinate local collection sites in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties on November 12, 2011. Residents in any county of New Jersey, who want to dispose of their unused, unwanted, and expired medicine on November 12th, should visit www.americanmedicinechest.com to find out where in their community a collection site will be held.”

"Heroin and other opiate use amongst New Jersey's youth has risen drastically over the last decade," said John Hulick, Acting Executive Director of the GCADA, "a fact reinforced at hearings held by the State Commission on Investigation where experts recently testified prescription pills are easily accessible to teenagers, and a "gateway drug" to heroin."  

Provenzano added, “The AMCC is designed to bring to light the dangers of prescription drug abuse and the easy accessibility within the home by generating unprecedented media attention to the issue of prescription and over-the-counter medicine abuse, to create a way for adults to anonymously, legally, and safely dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine, and to encourage families to take the five step American Medicine Chest Challenge.”

The AMCC website www.americanmedicinechest.com is a comprehensive repository of information on the November 12, 2011 event as well as prescription drug abuse. 

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 , the New Jersey Ad Club, Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association, the Public Relations Society of New Jersey, and the National Association of Government Communicators.

AMCC is being supported by numerous organizations in New Jersey including the New Jersey Broadcaster’s Association, New Jersey Prevention Network, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, and the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.  National sponsors include PhRMA, The Partnership at Drugfree.org, the American College of Emergency Room Physicians, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Covanta Energy, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and Generic Pharmaceutical Association. The parent organization of AMCC is the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. 

Best known for its statewide anti-drug advertising campaign, the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is a private not-for-profit coalition of professionals from the communications, corporate and government communities whose collective mission is to reduce demand for illicit drugs in New Jersey through media communication.  To date, more than $60 million in broadcast time and print space has been donated to the Partnership’s New Jersey campaign, making it the largest public service advertising campaign in New Jersey’s history. Since its inception the Partnership has garnered 119 Advertising and Public Relations Awards from National, Regional & Statewide Media Organizations