WOONSOCKET, R.I. — This month, CVS/pharmacy is launching several efforts to help curb prescription drug abuse.
The drug chain said it has expanded the availability of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medicine, in several states. The medication already was available at CVS/pharmacy without a prescription in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, but it’s now available without a prescription at CVS stores in 12 more states: Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
More than 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States, noted Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS/pharmacy.
“Most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin. Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives,” Davis said in a statement. “While all 7,800 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide can continue to order and dispense naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states.”
In addition, CVS Health is currently participating in a research project with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital to support a demonstration project of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits to help reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
CVS/pharmacy, too, has renewed its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, in which the drug chain has teamed up with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to donate drug collection units to police departments nationwide to help communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances.
“Our Safer Communities program has donated more than 400 drug collection units to local law enforcement around the country since last year, resulting in almost seven tons of unused medication being collected in our communities,” Davis stated. “We are pleased to continue this program with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and provide a permanent drug disposal solution at local police departments.”
CVS said the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also is slated to hold National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, Sept. 26. Hundreds of CVS/pharmacy stores around the country will host local law enforcement collection events in their parking lots from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.