New technology for Alaska’s war on opioids

Homeless youth advocate Michelle Overstreet, left, talks about drug abuse during an Alaska Municipal League forum Feb. 22, 2017, in Juneau. Dr. Anne Zink, center, and Dr. Jay Butler, right, were also on the panel. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Alaska has another tool in the fight against opioids. Public health officials are distributing thousands of disposal bags that chemically react and leave no trace of the drugs.

The bags are sealable pouches containing active carbon. One adds drugs and water, seals and shakes it, and waits for half a minute. The carbon neutralizes the drugs, so they have no effect. The biodegradable bags can be thrown out with the trash.

Michelle Overstreet is executive director of My House, a Wasilla-based organization that helps homeless teenagers. She told those at an Alaska Municipal League meeting in Juneau that it’s important to dispose of drugs safely at any time, not just official drop-off days.

“We’ve had parents coming in to get those, we’ve had grandparents coming in to get those. People are excited about having a way to get rid of those that isn’t throwing them in the garbage or down their septic system, which then can leach into their well,” she said.

A drug-disposal pouch from a painkiller company that’s providing 25,000 such bags to Alaska. (Photo courtesy Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals)

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, which makes opioid pain-killers, is contributing 25,000 disposal bags to the…

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