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Legislative Report District 13: Prescription drug costs and dangers

By Sen. Judy Lee

Prescription drugs are vitally important to our health and well-being, but there are some challenges that result from them, too. This column will provide a refresher on help with cost as well as what to do with those that are no longer used.

Prescription Connection is a program which connects those who qualify with free and discounted prescription drugs. Run by the North Dakota insurance Department, it is a clearinghouse for the programs which are offered by many pharmaceutical companies. With one contact. a person can provide information about the prescriptions he/she uses, and the Insurance Department can connect with almost all manufacturers through this program to find what discounts may be available. If you or someone you know may be struggling to purchase medications, call 1-888-575-6611 or log onto and check it out. Help may be available.

Prescription Drug Abuse is a problem which is growing dramatically. One in six teenagers has taken a medication not prescribed for him or her. Seventy-one percent of people get the drugs from a friend or relative. There are several things that all of us should do. Be sure that your prescription drugs are locked up, especially if other people will be in your home. It is very easy for someone to take a quick look in a medicine cabinet or a drawer, take some or all of the pills, and it is not noticed at first. Home sellers should especially lock up their medications. When sellers leave the house for a showing, if their meds are not locked up, they should put their meds in a purse or other container and take the meds with them. Don’t make it easy for someone to get prescription drugs for either personal use or sale. More people who cannot get supplies of the drugs to which they have become addicted are moving on to heroin. Help stop this epidemic by locking up your medications.

How many of us have seen homes where medication bottles are lined up on the window sill or counter in the kitchen? That is an invitation to someone looking for drugs. Teenagers who post on Facebook that they are having wisdom teeth removed have been targeted for theft, because of the painkillers that they will have received. People having surgery are equally vulnerable. Be careful how much you share with those who may overhear or read what you say. Those who have had a family member move to a senior facility or pass away should absolutely get rid of any medications that are still in their homes.

North Dakota is the only state that has receptacles for return of unused drugs available 365 days/year. There are 29 locations in the state where pills and vials can be deposited, mostly police and sheriff’s departments. West Fargo and Fargo Police Departments both have depositories. The meds are then safely incinerated. Go through your home today, gather those meds that are no longer used, and drop them off at the West Fargo or Fargo police department today. You will be doing your part to slow the growth of this serious problem. For more information, call 1-800-642-6744 or log onto

Your District 13 legislators want to hear from you with your questions and concerns. Contacts are:

Senator Judy Lee,, 282-6512; Rep. Kim Koppelman,, 282-9267; Rep. Alon Wieland,, 282-9470.