Prescription drug users, especially the elderly, should restrict access to their medications and keep them out of sight, a retired state trooper said Friday.
"People don't always realize there's a black market value for some of those drugs that can be sold on the street," said Sgt. Phillip Harchack, former commander of the Huntingdon barracks. "And if they have drugs they are no longer using, they should get rid of them."
Harchack was among the speakers at the 2011 Health and Wellness Expo at the Logan Valley Mall, where several health care providers set up booths to offer information about their services and advice to those with health-related questions. The annual event is a joint effort by the mall and the Altoona Mirror.
Mirror photo by Patrick?Waksmunski
Lexxii Richers (left), 17, of Altoona and Jennifer Brehm of East Freedom demonstrate Tae Kwon?Do for Progressive Martial Arts in Duncansville during the Altoona Mirror Health & Wellness Expo at the Logan Valley Mall on Friday.
Harchack, who offered two presentations on "Prescriptions and the Elderly," said his work in law enforcement exposed him to issues the elderly confront as they turn to medications to address pain, depression and other health-related issues.
Theft of prescription pills is not uncommon and typically involves a family member or a friend of a family member, he said.
"But if it's a family member, the [victim] often doesn't want to tell because then they get the family member in trouble," Harchack said.
Harchack also advised prescription drug users to be aware of potential issues.
"If a medication comes with a warning that it may affect your driving ... pay attention to that," he said. "It might make you a little dizzy, a little tired ... and it might impair your cognitive thinking."
Thirty-two vendors participated in the Expo, including the Altoona Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Duncansville. Patient liaison Ellen Rosen said her booth attracted interest.
"A lot of people asked about rheumatoid arthritis ... and we have 140 studies going on, so even for those without health insurance, we're trying to let them know that help is available," she said.
Altoona resident William Shover, sitting on a bench while his wife, Sandra, did some shopping, said he had his blood pressure taken and asked a question about covering the cost of a shingles prevention shot.
"This is helpful," Shover said. "They bring in people out here who can give you good advice. Those who don't come are missing out."
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.