New efforts in Albany County to fight heroin epidemic

October 11, 2017 07:00 PM

COHOES -- Marra's Pharmacy is one of several pharmacies in Albany County that now feature Project Orange.  

Patients who are going home with opioids get a voucher.  If they have any painkillers they don't want anymore, they can trade in the voucher for a mailing envelope, then simply put the pills in the envelope and drop the package in the mailbox, free of charge.

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The idea is to keep powerful opioids out of the wrong hands.

"Many times people get a prescription for 30, 60, 90.  They only take two or three and they leave them in the medicine cabinet and we all know that part of the problem with the opioid crisis is that individuals who may not have been designated to get that opioid are getting their hands on it," said John McDonald of Marra's.

"The traditional story of the teenager or the person who's addicted going into their grandmother's house, taking medicine out of the medicine cabinet, it's real.  It's happening."

An overwhelming number of heroin addicts began with prescription opioids.

Heroin is sweeping our area.  According to the sheriff, in Albany County this year, there have been more than 25 heroin-related deaths confirmed, plus another 60 suspected.

There were also more than 90 heroin overdoses that were not fatal.

"And it's horrifying if you think about it and a lot of people think that it's not going to affect them, it wouldn't happen to us, we're in a beautiful suburban town, it's not going to happen here, but it happens everywhere," said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

Sheriff Apple has been holding Heroin Awareness Town Hall meetings for anyone who wants to listen.

As for Project Orange, McDonald says patients are using the envelopes as fast as he can put them out.

"We consult our patients, we advise them of the good use of the medication, but also the potential misuse, and more and more people are coming back with those vouchers and asking for these envelopes," said McDonald.  "They want to get drugs out of their communities and it's a good thing."

The Albany County Project Orange pharmacies are:

Crestwood Pharmacy
26 Picotte Drive
(518) 435-2315

Marra's Pharmacy
217 Remsen Street
(518) 237-2110

Four Corners Pharmacy
360 Delaware Avenue
(518) 439-8200

Lincoln Pharmacy
300 Morton Avenue
(518) 465-2253


Kumi Tucker

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