Northern Ireland news

More than 100,000 addictive prescription drugs 'dumped' in bins as part of health service project

Tramadol is among the addictive painkillers that has been binned as part of a health service project
Seanín Graham

MORE than 150,000 tablets have been disposed through a 'drugs bin' scheme aimed at tackling the rise of illegal and highly addictive prescription medication.

Powerful painkillers including Tramadol and other morphine-based drugs were dumped over a seven year period as part of a scheme led by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Bright yellow bins were placed in shopping centres and community venues in discreet areas so drugs could be disposed anonymously.

Plans are underway to extend it to eight locations in the greater Derry area.

Figures obtained by the Irish News this year revealed that more than 2.2 million Tramadol-related drugs were dispensed in the north between 2013 and 2017.

In an interview with the Irish News, the north's former state pathologist said he "doesn't think enough is being done" to tackle the abuse of the drug, which he said was as dangerous as heroin.

"People are able to get not just Tramadol but tranquilisers and sleeping tablets - and these are being issued without patients being reviewed regularly," Professor Jack Crane said.

Diazepam, Co-codamol and other codeine based drugs were also dumped.

Kelly Gilliland of the PHA, said: "The RAPID (Remove All Prescription and Illegal Drugs) initiative provides a safe way for anyone to dispose of drugs whether they are prescribed or illegal..and we are highlighting how these bins can help make communities safer places for everyone.

"While the bins can be used to dispose of all types of drugs, over 90 per cent of the drugs disposed have been prescription medications."

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