BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Every patient who fills a prescription for an opioid painkiller at one of our area’s hospital chains will now get a free means to safely dispose of leftover pills thanks to a new partnership with Broome County.

The Broome Opioid Awareness Council and the Prevention Coalition are using $40,000 from state opioid response funding to purchase more than 10,000 Deterra drug deactivation pouches.

The retail pharmacies at UHS and Lourdes Hospitals will give them out for free to anyone filling a prescription for opioid painkillers following a surgey or injury.

Broome County Opioid Overdose Prevention Coordinator Marissa Knapp said that even if people don’t end up having leftover medication to dispose of, the pouches will get people to think more about prescription drug safety.

“A lot of times, people lock up their alcohol at home or their firearms at home but we don’t really think about locking up medications,” said Knapp. “A lot of times, people keep them in their bathrooms, and that of course is where everyone visits if they come to your homes. So, if we start this conversation, we hope that it’ll teach our children about medication safety and scrip safety, and up until the senior population as well.”

The pouches render the drugs unusable by creating a chemical reaction between charcoal in the bag and the added medication and warm water.

Knapp said it’s a one year pilot program after which health officials will assess its effectiveness and a funding stream if they choose to continue.

She said that the health department used data from the health systems to determine how many pouches to order for each hospital.