The Deterra Drug Deactivation System, a new product from Verde Technologies, fights the ongoing opioid epidemic by neutralizing prescription drugs commonly diverted from home medicine cabinets.
These biodegradable pouches offer a quick and affordable way for people to safely dispose of leftover opioid painkillers and other prescription drugs. Not only does the system deactivate drugs, but it also makes them environmentally safe.
Once the product renders drugs inactive, the entire pouch can be thrown away with household garbage.
People commonly throw prescription drugs in the trash or flush them down the toilet, which can contaminate landfills and water sources. Deterra bags solve that problem by neutralizing pharmaceuticals and preventing them from seeping into the ground soil — and ultimately our drinking water supplies.
To use a Deterra bag, an individual puts unwanted prescription pills, liquids or patches into the pouch and adds warm water. A carbon-based absorption system deactivates the drugs, making them safe for disposal in landfills. Over time, the environmentally friendly pouches are converted to water and carbon dioxide through a natural process.
The Deterra pouches come in several sizes that can deactivate various amounts of medications. The drug deactivation system works on an array of organic prescription drugs, from opioids to antibiotics. The product costs about $5 to $7 per bag.
Drug coalitions in Florida and across the country believe Deterra bags could become one of the most effective methods for preventing prescription drug abuse. Many coalitions are now holding community educational trainings to raise awareness about the product.
Melanie Bright, youth director at Drug Free Duval in Jacksonville, Florida, says that when her organization learned about Deterra systems, it started advocating for the product in the local community.
“We started promoting them right away in our constituency, just letting people know they were available,” Bright told DrugRehab.com. “But when we kicked off our community education training, that’s when we really started promoting their use in the community.”
Bright says it is easy to convince people to support and promote Deterra bags. They empower people to reduce harm to the community and environment from prescription drugs — particularly opioids.
“I think that they’re just one more step in prevention of people getting ahold of opioids,” she said.
The system will keep painkillers out of the hands of children and people at risk of abusing the drugs, who often find them in the medicine cabinets of friends and family members. And it has the added benefit of reducing the chances of these drugs causing unintentional overdoses and environmental pollution.
Bright says that Drug Free Duval does everything in its power to promote the use of Deterra bags and that she hopes this movement gains momentum. More Deterra bags in American homes could also eliminate first-time prescription drug abuse. Most drug users first gain access to prescription drugs by taking a family member’s unused medications.
“We would like to see [Deterra pouches] in every pharmacy where an opioid is prescribed,” said Bright. “I think everyone should use a Deterra bag or have them available because, at some point in our lives, we’re all most likely going to have a prescription we need to get rid of.”
The Hernando Community Coalition, formerly known as the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition, is another Florida organization that recognized the potential benefits of Deterra bags. It created a program to distribute the product in its community for free.
“When I saw them, I jumped on them because we’ve had an opioid and prescription drug problem here in our community since 2011, 2012,” Tresa Watson, executive director of the commission, told DrugRehab.com.
Prescription drug abuse in Hernando County — which houses a large senior population that uses a wide variety of medications — has remained a problem. To help reduce the amount of stray medications in the area, drug take-back boxes have been placed throughout the county in various public locations.
While the drop boxes are a step in the right direction, they have not completely solved the problem.
“There was always a barrier of people not wanting to get up and take their prescription drugs to these locations,” said Watson.
Watson saw that Deterra bags provided a convenient and easy way to dispose of the plethora of unused medications in Hernando County medicine cabinets. She decided to take a chance on the system, budgeted for them and bought them in bulk.
She purchased about 3,000 Deterra bags in hopes that they would cut down on the amount of prescription drugs in people’s homes, on the streets and in the water supply.
The coalition set up Deterra bag giveaway stations at the local YMCA, the Salvation Army, the sheriff’s office and emergency departments. It also introduced the product to local hospices and emergency rooms, which are now buying the bags on their own for official use.
To Watson, Deterra bags are a win-win situation.
“What’s great about the bags is that there’s a neutralizer in there, but the whole bag is biodegradable,” she said. “My main goal with the bags is to reduce prescription drugs getting in the wrong hands, but also [to prevent people from putting] them down the toilet and sink.”
Watson says the Deterra bag program has been extremely successful and that she plans to continue the program for as long as the community response is positive.
People who want to find their own Deterra Drug Deactivation System have a number of options. You can visit deterrasystem.com to buy them directly from the manufacturer or purchase them from online marketplaces such as Amazon and medical supply websites.
Many county anti-drug coalitions have set up programs that distribute Deterra bags for free.