CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid Corp. last month unveiled the company’s first in-store medication disposal unit at the Rite Aid pharmacy in Lemoyne, Pa., as part of its overall strategy of combating drug abuse. Rite Aid plans to install 100 medication disposal units in selected pharmacies over the next year. The units offer individuals a free, safe and convenient way to dispose of expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, helping to reduce the chances of accidental or intentional misuse.
Rite Aid president and chief operating officer Kermit Crawford was joined on June 1 by Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) and other dignitaries at the Lemoyne location to highlight the significant role the disposal boxes play in the company’s overall strategy to fight the growing epidemic.
“Rite Aid is committed to doing its part to address this serious issue affecting our country, and the availability of medication disposal units inside select Rite Aid pharmacies is an important next step in our comprehensive approach,” said Crawford.
“Our pharmacists, as medication experts, are often asked for information on how to properly dispose of medication that’s no longer needed, so we are proud to be able to offer in-store disposal and DisposeRx packets as solutions to our patients and customers,” he added.
“Rite Aid’s safe medication disposal program brings business sense to combatting the growing public health threat and tragedy that is the opioid crisis. This is one step in the comprehensive approach to stop opioid abuse, and I applaud Rite Aid for taking such great initiative. With the help of families, practitioners, public health experts, drug companies and community action, we can put a stop to the opioid abuse epidemic,” Perry said.
Jennifer Smith, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, also attended the June event, as did State Rep. Sheryl Delozier. Smith said strong partnerships between the public and private sectors were needed to complement Gov. Tom Wolf’s efforts to fight the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic confronting her state. “Increasing availability and awareness of take-back boxes makes Pennsylvanians safer, and I thank Rite Aid for their commitment to fighting this crisis,” Smith added.
Disposal boxes are an essential component in fighting opioid abuse, in Smith’s view, because they allow people to take an active role in making their homes and communities safer by lowering the risk of prescription drug misuse. More than 52,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been disposed of in 2018, according to Smith, and 400,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been safely disposed of at Pennsylvania’s take-back boxes since 2014.
Rite Aid also plans to have all of its more than 2,500 pharmacies provide free DisposeRx packets to patients with new opioid prescriptions and for patients with chronic opioid prescriptions every six months. DisposeRx packets contain a biodegradable powder that, when mixed with water in the prescription vial, dissolves drugs, forming a viscous gel that can be discarded safely in the trash. Rite Aid is the first drug store chain to offer DisposeRx packets.
In April, the drug chain announced that naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, was available at all of its locations without a prescription. The increased access to naloxone supports the surgeon general’s recent Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose. Additionally, all patients with opioid prescriptions will receive educational information on opioid use, safe storage and disposal as well as proper use of naloxone, and all patients with new opioid prescriptions will receive required counseling on their prescription from Rite Aid pharmacists.
In addition to supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for prescribing opioids, Rite Aid participates in prescription drug monitoring programs, including a red flag process for pharmacists to regularly review prescriptions for patients not known by the pharmacy or where there may be concerns or suspicions of misuse.