WASHINGTON, D.C. –During Poison Control Week, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) called for continued funding of poison-control centers, which face a proposed 90 percent slash in funding. Since 2007, unintentional drug poisoning has been the leading cause of injury death in Ohio and these poison control centers serve as critical resources for Ohio communities.

“Poison control centers play critical roles in keeping Ohio’s children and families healthy and safe,” Brown said. “We need to get serious about reducing the deficit, but let’s do it by cutting corporate handouts rather than slashing programs that save lives.”

As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, one-third of regional poison control centers’ annual budgets come from federal funding. The House-passed budget proposal included large cuts to these poison control centers and the Senate is set to vote on funding later this year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States increased by 145 percent from 1999 to 2007; the majority of these deaths—93 percent—were a result of drug poisoning, most commonly from opioid pain medications such as methadone, hydrocodone, or oxycodone.

There are three poison control centers in Ohio: Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and Northern Ohio Poison Center at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.

Last year, Sen. Brown introduced the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 to curb these numbers by preventing teenagers from gaining access to discarded prescription drugs by permitting individuals and long-term care facilities to deliver unused drugs for safe disposal and by expanding drug take-back programs.

As many as 17 percent of prescription medication goes unused and may contribute to drug diversion and environmental problems. This bill would allow consumers to give controlled substances to specially designated individuals, such as law enforcement or pharmacists, for disposal. The legislation would allow long-term care facilities to dispose of certain prescription drugs on behalf of their residents.