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Millennium Health Helps Launch Coalition to Tackle Prescription Drug Misuse, Abuse in San Diego

Initial focus is thefts at real estate open houses

SAN DIEGO (March 11, 2014) – The Greater San Diego Association of REALTORS®, local nonprofits, Millennium Health, and other partners announced today the formation of the Safe Homes Coalition that will work to inform people about the proper use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore voiced strong support for the coalition, which representatives said was a response to reports of prescription drug thefts during real estate open houses.

Prescription drug abuse continues to take a toll in San Diego County as the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force reported last November. According to the task force, deaths from prescription drug overdoses have increased sharply over the last five years, as have prescription drug-related visits to hospital emergency departments. Especially alarming was the effect of the epidemic on youth with nearly 20 percent of 11th-graders in San Diego County reporting that they had experimented with prescription drugs. Real estate open houses remain a source of those prescription drugs.

“The reports of young people removing prescription medications from open houses made it apparent that real estate professionals can be the first line of defense in preventing such thefts of these medications,” Gore said at a coalition press conference.

The region’s 12,000-plus REALTORS® will play a key role in a multi-faceted coalition campaign designed to raise awareness of, and help, combat the problem. Millennium Health, nonprofit Mental Health Systems, its North Inland Community Prevention Program, Oakwood Escrow, nonprofit Hope2Gether Foundation, and the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force are the coalition’s other members.

The group shared a public service announcement to be aired on local television and radio stations. The coalition also plans to distribute 10,000 bags to be used by homeowners to secure prescription medications prior to open houses in San Diego. The bags will be distributed through seven REALTORS® service centers in the county. Outreach via presentations and materials to real estate professionals and a Facebook page with information about prescription drug abuse and ways to counter it are also part of the campaign.

The campaign will highlight proper disposal options for prescription medications. Those include national Take Back Days like the one coming up April 26, and drop boxes that are available year-round at every sheriff station in the county.

“Prescription drug abuse is the leading cause of unintended deaths in San Diego County,” Dumanis said. “That’s why we need as many groups as possible working to curtail abuse and misuse. I commend the work of the Safe Homes Coalition in their effort to limit youth access to prescription drugs.”

Although the coalition’s initial focus is San Diego County, the group hopes to expand its campaign through collaborations in targeted communities, throughout California, and across the United States.

To view the Safe Homes Coalition’s PSA go to: http://bit.ly/safehomesPSA. The coalition’s Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/safehomescoalition. Call (858) 391-9303 for information.

Event photos are available upon request.

About Millennium Health

Millennium Health, a leader in the science of medication monitoring and pharmacogenetic testing, is transforming the way health care professionals monitor and manage their patients’ medication therapy. Through the use of advanced technology, supported by research and education, Millennium helps practitioners personalize care for patients. More information can be found at http://millenniumhealth.com.