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Granite Health focuses on hazards of prescription drugs

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

June 07. 2017 9:26PM


CONCORD — Granite Health introduced three initiatives Wednesday aimed at reducing the risk of addiction by eliminating the supply of leftover medications and better educating the people taking the medications as well as those writing the prescriptions.

“If we can decrease the supply in our communities, we can have a big impact on that,” said Dr. Travis Harker, chief medical officer at Granite Health.

Granite Health, which includes Catholic Medical Center, Concord Hospital, LRG Healthcare, Southern NH Health, Exeter Health Resources and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, is funding the plan through a grant from Tufts Health Freedom Plan and Northeast Delta Dental.

Granite Health plans to install take-back boxes at CMC, LRG in Laconia and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover. Harker said the idea is to make it convenient for patients who want to get rid of unused medications.

“It just made a lot of sense to make it as easy and comfortable as possible,” Harker said.

The second component is providing special “deactivation pouches” with opioid prescriptions. The Deterra Drug Deactivation system uses activated carbon to render the drugs inert when water is added.

The pouch would be given to the patient along with the opioid prescription.

“You’re saying in a direct way, and also in indirect ways, that these medications are potentially dangerous and here’s a way that you can reduce your risk,” Harker said.

Tym Rourke, director of substance abuse grant-making at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment, said both initiatives are positive approaches to attacking the opioid crisis.

“To make that kind of resource available to patients is just fantastic,” Rourke said. “It’s another tool in the toolbox and I think it demonstrates a really clear example of the role healthcare providers can play in helping mitigate the harm that can be caused by the misuse of opioid prescriptions.”

Harkner said Granite Health worked on the plans with Jim and Jeanne Moser, a couple from East Kingston who lost their 27-year-old son to an overdose in 2015. The Mosers have since dedicated themselves to promoting proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs through a campaign they started called “Zero Left.”

The third component of Granite Health’s plan is to better educate medical providers and dentists. The state requires three hours of continuing education each year, which Granite Health plans to make more effective by tailoring the material to the audience.

“We thought, ‘Let’s take it a step further and make it really focused on the type of doc that is going to be doing the prescribing,” Harker said.


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