PARKERSBURG - Element Medication Disposal System is a kit designed to create a way for West Virginians and communities nationwide to reduce prescription drug abuse.
It was developed by a Beckley man whose parents have moved to Parkersburg.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration resident agent in charge John Ryan have said a record amount of prescription drugs was collected in West Virginia during the April 27 Prescription Drug Take-Back event and totalled 4,642 pounds . The previous record of 4,572 pounds was collected last April.
"This year's record total is another milestone in the fight against prescription drug abuse," Goodwin said in a news release. "West Virginians understand how devastating the prescription drug problem is for our families, and they're responding in the most effective way they can - by getting rid of potentially dangerous medicine that they don't need any more."
The take-back day consisted of more than 100 sites throughout West Virginia.
A Beckley company believes those numbers can be improved.
Chris Vaught, president and CEO of the company, was approached by hospice nurses after they discovered disposing of a recently passed patients medication was often becoming a lengthy and messy task. Vaught, with the help of Daniel Keaton, director of business development for Vaught Inc. and its subsidiaries, developed the disposal method to satisfy a need in the local community.
V23, LLC, officially launched the Element Medication Disposal System last April, officials said.
The kit, available for purchase, contains a method used in the past but in a discreet, plastic container with a temper-evident lid that consumers can throw away in the safety and convenience of their own home, said Andy Knapp, Element MDS director. Knapp's parents moved to Parkersburg from Beckley about 20 years ago. His mother, Martha Knapp, said her husband, Rob, was 56 years old when he passed away in 2003 after battling stage 4 metastatic colon cancer.
The only way for the nurses to dispose of his strong medications was to flush them down the toilet, she recalled.
"I think it's a wonderful idea and something we need to look into," Martha Knapp said of her son's efforts.
Keaton said the disposal method they created allows for less contamination of the water lines where pills were readily disposed of through commodes. The method allows the drugs to be dissolved of without being unprofessional looking.
"The method already existed, (we) just made it a much shorter period of time," Keaton said. "Medication disposal is a huge hot button."
While Element MDS was initially marketed to hospices, it has seen other areas of success in community groups.
From the West Virginia Linn Community Task Force in West Linn, Ore., to the Marion County Solid Waste Authority in West Virginia, people have used the kit to properly dispose of their medications and address a global issue, Knapp said.
Knapp said the company has presented the idea to the local sheriff's office as a way for deputies to dispose of drugs immediately on contact. "Here's something (they) can keep in their patrol car," Knapp said of how law enforcement communities could respond to the need. "Give it to a family or home and say 'you have medications sitting in your home and medicine cabinet you don't want (thieves or children) to get into.'"
Although Knapp said drop-boxes and take-back days are a great thing for some people, others would like to remain more private about how they rid their medicine cabinets.
"One community, the residents didn't want to go out and participate in the drug take back days; they wanted to keep their medications private," he said. "Our focus is to talk about proper medication disposal before someone else OD's on something they find in a medicine cabinet."
Local law enforcement officials agree with the method of disposal.
Sgt. Greg Collins with the Parkersburg Police Department said ideas like the one Knapp and Keaton helped create are just what local law enforcement needs to help with the issue of unused pills.
"I believe people are much more aware today about the dangers of leaving unused medications around the home than ever before," Collins said. "I still believe most are disposing of them in ways that are not recommended."
Collins said people commit burglaries with the intention of stealing pills and children take pills from their home to use and give to friends.
"It's a dangerous and deadly problem that can be remedied somewhat by new and innovative ways to properly dispose of pills," he said.
Knapp said the support to officers and local officials in communities combating the drug problem nationwide and in the state is an excellent start.
"We support these coalitions and their efforts; they're doing an excellent job," Knapp said of raising drug awareness. "There are good things being done in the state of West Virginia."