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Upstate now provides locking drug vials to all patients with prescription of controlled substance at discharge

The Upstate Outpatient pharmacy has expanded its Safe RX prescription vial system for all hospital patients who are ordered a controlled substance at discharge.

The Safe RX vial is a locking pill bottle that has a unique security code that will be programmed prior to dispensing for each patient.

Safe RX is a company that was started by a practicing physician to provide a simple, cost-effective solution to the problem of unauthorized access to prescription opioids. More than 11 million Americans used or misused opioids in the last year and patients with a history of using opioid pain relievers for non-medical reasons have a higher rate of heroin use. Drug overdose or poisoning is also one of the leading causes of unintentional death in children and adolescents. 

Upstate debuted use of the locking pill bottles in December with pediatric patients discharged with a controlled substance and now will use the vials for all patients through the Meds-to-Beds program. The Meds-to-Beds program provides patients with their medications at bedside prior to leaving the hospital.

“Over the past few months, we have been testing the vial system with our pediatric population only,” said Eric Balotin, Upstate’s director of Retail/Specialty Pharmacy. “This was a small group of patients which allowed us to enhance our discharge mediation process while providing for additional hands on pharmacist patient education to further reduce post discharge medication related issues.”  

The Safe RX vial prevents unauthorized access to prescriptions medications. Balotin said that 80% of heroin addicts began by using prescription painkillers.

“Our fast-paced lifestyles may prevent caregivers from immediately putting medicines away in a high, out of sight and locked location after every use,” Balotin said. “The added benefit of these vials is that they will provide for additional safe storage protection of prescription medications from children.”  

Balotin said the new procedure will apply for Meds-to-Beds patients as a policy, but the vials will also be available upon request to patients who are using the either of the Upstate Outpatient pharmacies, located at 750 East Adams Street in the hospital lobby and at 5000 West Seneca Turnpike, for their general prescription needs.