It’s a story that didn’t have to happen.
Timothy Strain, 18, recently returned from a trip to Europe, burned his hand on a lawn mower muffler while earning money for college. He was treated by a doctor, scheduled for skin grafts and prescribed pain medication. But the pain persisted and one day, someone Tim knew well allegedly offered him methadone. The methadone reacted with the Percocet he’d been prescribed and killed him.
Bernard Strain, Tim’s dad, has since testified before both Congress and Philadelphia City Council about the dangers of leftover medication. Last May 24, Tim’s birthday, a resolution was introduced in Congress to begin the conversation about proper disposal.
“We have programs to turn in cans and bottles, batteries and computer parts, why not unused prescriptions?” said Strain.
City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has introduced a resolution calling for the creation of a citywide prescription drug turn-in program. Last year, Reynolds Brown said, prescription drug overdoses resulted in more than 700,000 ER visits nationwide. “Another fact that I find troubling is that one in five teens have abused prescription medications,” she said.
Philadelphia participated in the first prescription drug National Take Back Initiative two months ago. The event netted 223 pounds of pills — 5,900 pounds statewide.
“We continue to wait for him (Tim) to walk through the door,” Strain said. “I am hell-bent with this not happening to someone else.”
The number of prescription medications confiscated by police in Philadelphia is increasing. According to testimony in City Council hearings this month, police have nabbed more than 48,000 pills with an estimated street value of more than $360,400 so far this year.