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Drug chains step up, do their part to curb Rx abuse

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NEW YORK — Drug chains are spearheading efforts to fight prescription drug abuse through a range of initiatives.

CVS Health reported that its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program has donated more than 500 drug collection units to law enforcement partners across the U.S. The donation resulted in the safe disposal of more than 35 metric tons of unwanted medication through late April.

Walgreens and the American Pharmacists Association recently announced a collaboration on substance abuse education. Through the joint effort, the APhA Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies will offer a four-day program for pharmacists and student pharmacists next month in Salt Lake City. The APhA Institute program will teach ways to recognize and address the misuse and abuse of prescription medications and other addictive ­substances.

The collaboration with APhA is the latest step Walgreens has taken to fight prescription drug abuse. In February, the chain announced the installation of safe medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 stores in the first such national effort by a retailer. The kiosks make the disposal of medications — including opioids and other controlled substances — easier and more convenient while helping reduce the misuse of medications and the rise in overdose deaths.

Walgreens also announced it would make naloxone, a lifesaving opioid antidote, available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington, D.C., in accordance with each state’s pharmacy regulations. Both initiatives are rolling out state by state throughout the year.

“As a pharmacy, we are committed to playing a role in what must be a comprehensive solution to prevent addiction and prescription drug abuse throughout the country,” said Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations Richard Ashworth. “Our work with APhA, together with Walgreens programs that specifically target opioid abuse, will go a long way to help address the epidemics of prescription drug misuse and heroin ­overdoses.”

“We are pleased to have the support of Walgreens to work along with the profession as the epidemic of substance abuse in our nation continues to grow,” said APhA executive vice president and chief executive officer Thomas Menighan. “Through the institute, we hope to raise the public’s awareness of this critical issue through their pharmacists. While pharmacists have always been on the front lines, we can do more.”

CVS, meanwhile, recognized National Prescription Drug Take Back Day by hosting more than 150 events managed by local law enforcement agencies at stores around the country. It also launched new education resources on cvs.com to help patients use and dispose of prescription medication safely.

“The company is committed to helping the communities we serve address and prevent prescription drug abuse,” said CVS vice president of pharmacy professional practices Tom Davis. “Proper disposal of unwanted prescription medication is critical to prevent abuse, and we are proud to mark National Prescription Drug Take Back Day with a number of important initiatives. Taken together, our Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, our patient resources on cvs.com and our Take Back events are helping us advance CVS Health’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

CVS Pharmacy is a longtime supporter of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which was established by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2010 to provide safe, convenient and responsible means to dispose of prescription drugs, while educating the public about the potential for abuse of ­medications.

New online consumer education resources have been established at cvs.com/content/prescription-drug-abuse.


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