Rio Grande Regional offering to take back opioids

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McALLEN — The opioid crisis plaguing the nation has, thus far, passed over the Rio Grande Valley, and medical and city officials here are taking steps to make sure that doesn’t change.

The city of McAllen and Rio Grande Regional Hospital are partnering to hold “Crush the Crisis,” an opioid take-back event Saturday during which anyone can stop by to drop off opioids, no questions asked, officials said at a news conference held Monday morning.

A drive-thru collection will be set up at the main entrance of Rio Grande Regional Hospital from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

The most common opioids include codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, tramadol, hydromorphone and fentanyl, according to Isidro Rodriguez, the director of pharmacy at Rio Grande Regional Hospital.

“If those names are on your prescription bottles, those are the items that we’re primarily trying to collect,” Rodriguez said.

“We have a lot of drugs in our bathrooms that are there for years and years, you don’t think about it, sometimes with access to your kids,” said McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, adding that it is not recommended to dispose of them by simply flushing them down the toilet or by throwing them in the garbage.

“Those usually spring from a prescription that’s legal that’s given to you by the doctor, and then it results into abuse and other things,” he said.

“Crush the Crisis” is a national initiative that Rio Grande Regional decided to partake in following the participation of their parent company, Hospital Corporation of America, according to Cris Rivera, the chief executive officer or Rio Grande Regional.

“This ‘Crush the Crisis’ opportunity is here for us to help you, not only raise awareness, but give you an opportunity to get rid of those drugs,” Rivera said. “We will be collecting all of the drugs that the community does not need, does not want to use, and we will dispose of them appropriately.”

“Even though it’s a crisis across the nation, it is not here in the Rio Grande Valley, thank goodness,” Rivera said. “But we want to be proactive and be able to address this before it does become a crisis in the Rio Grande Valley and that’s why we are participating.”

Opioids have led to approximately 400,000 deaths nationwide since 1999, according to McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, adding that another estimate suggests that about 130 people die every day as a result of opioid abuse.

Following lawsuits over its alleged role in the opioid epidemic, Purdue Pharma — the manufacturer of the painkiller OxyContin — filed for bankruptcy on Sunday as part of a tentative settlement agreement with various state and local governments who filed those lawsuits.

However, the states are split on whether to accept the deal, with roughly half of them expected to challenge the settlement in bankruptcy court in hopes of continuing to litigate the case.

“Addiction can be conquered. Opioid take back day, like that hosted by Rio Grande Regional Hospital, will help us turn this devastating threat around,” Chief Rodriguez said.

“We ask you to return unused opioids and that you do so at Rio Grande Regional Hospital’s Crush the Crisis opioid take back day on Saturday.”

bereniceg@themonitor.com

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