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CVS Health examines perceptions of opioid epidemic

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Americans see prescription drug abuse as a growing problem that is increasingly impacting their lives, a new report from CVS Health has found.

Released on Thursday, ahead of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the report also finds that 75% of respondents believe the problem of prescription drug abuse is tied to people who take medication prescribed for someone else. At the same time, nearly one in three people report having unused medication in their home and one in five say they or someone they know has had prescription medication stolen from their home.

CVS Pharmacy drug disposal kiosk

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day takes place on Saturday. Nearly 140 CVS Pharmacy locations will be among the many sites across the country accepting unwanted prescription medication. These sites supplement the more than 750 year-round drug disposal locations donated to law enforcement agencies across the country by the CVS Health Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program.

The units donated as part of this program have collected more than 80 metric tons, or more than 175,000 pounds, of unwanted medication since the initiative began in 2014.

“CVS Health is dedicated to addressing and preventing prescription drug abuse in the communities we serve,” Thomas Moriarty, executive vice president, chief policy and external affairs officer and general counsel at CVS Health, said in a statement. “Understanding public perception about the epidemic and factors that contribute to it, including safe and environmentally friendly medication disposal, is key to raising awareness and preventing future abuse.

“We are proud to partner with law enforcement to encourage drug disposal and prevention this weekend for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and all year long through our Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program,” Moriarty added.

The CVS report also finds nearly one in three people report being personally impacted by the issue of prescription drug abuse and nearly 40% say the number of people they know who have been personally impacted by the issue increased in the last year.

On the topic of drug disposal, 43% of respondents say they have thrown unused or expired medications in the trash, more than any other method indicated in the survey. However, 70% of people say they are likely to use conveniently located disposal units to safely get rid of unwanted medication and the same percentage think increasing disposal sites and take back events would be effective in addressing prescription drug abuse.

CVS Health has made resources to educate patients about preventing prescription drug abuse available on CVS.com. Among these resources is a tool patients can use to find a safe medication disposal site available year-round in their local community.

“There are far too many unused prescription drugs in medicine cabinets across the country, opening the door for much of the improper use we’ve seen,” stated Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing the devastation the disease of addiction causes families. “Shatterproof has worked with doctors, pharmacies, lawmakers and most importantly, patients, to educate them on the dangers of over-prescription and the need for prescription drug monitoring programs. I applaud CVS Health for recognizing this problem and taking action to reduce the number of extra pills and make our communities safer.”

CVS is also working to address and prevent prescription drug abuse by increasing access to the opioid-overdose reversal medication naloxone in 41 states. Additionally, through the company’s Pharmacists Teach program, CVS pharmacists have volunteered to educate more than 230,000 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.


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