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Donation aims to help families dispose of unwanted prescription medication

YORK, P.A. --- The opioid epidemic is well-documented, nationwide.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said commonwealth officials predict roughly 5,200 people died from opioid abuse in 2017.

Health experts say more than 70 percent of those who become addicts first get them through a friend or family member.

In light of that, a way to keep them out of the wrong hands.

UnitedHealthcare is donating 10,000 medication disposal system packets Family First Health Clinic and Byrnes Health Education Center.

The purpose is to give families an easy way to dispose of unwanted or unused prescription medication.

First, put the pills in the packet.

Second, pour water into the packet.

Then, shake the packet.

"There's a chemical in the bag that connects with the drugs and deactivates them so you're not able to use them again," said Dr. Martin Rosenzweig, Chief Medical Officer with Optum Behavioral.

Finally, simply throw it away.

"These kits can get harmful medication out of the homes and the hands of our friends and neighbors who do not need to be exposed to that risk," said Allison Davenport, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Pennsylvania.

Nikole Tome, assistant director of Byrnes Health Education Center, said they look forward to adding the kits to their Drugs 101 programs.

"Parents are coming up to us asking these exact questions: ‘What should I do with my leftover prescriptions? How do I dispose of them properly?’ The great thing is, now, we have an actual tool and giveaway to provide them," said Tome.