DEERFIELD, Ill. — Four prominent players in the health care sector are coming together to help combat opioid abuse by increasing the availability of Walgreens medication disposal kiosks.
The goal is to collect 300 tons of unwanted medications over the next two years through kiosks at about 1,500 Walgreens stores nationwide. Walgreens now has about 600 such kiosks where people can safely dispose of unused medicines.
“Prescription medications that sit in home medicine cabinets pose a potential safety threat to family members and can be highly susceptible to diversion and misuse,” explained Kim Holland, vice president of state affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA). “With the escalating opioid crisis, it’s more important than ever to invest in initiatives that focus on prevention and help keep loved ones and communities safe.”
BCBSA is being joined in the effort by AmerisourceBergen Corp., Pfizer Inc. and Prime Therapeutics.
“This crisis calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach,” commented Jonathan Gavras, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Prime Therapeutics. “Prime is proud to be sponsoring this take-back kiosk initiative — as an extension of Prime’s existing Controlled Substances Management Program — because we not only need to monitor for appropriate use, we need to make sure these dangerous medicines don’t fall into the wrong hands. We encourage everyone to go through their medicine cabinets and drop their unwanted medicines safely into a nearby Walgreens kiosk.”
Military members are a focus of the expansion of the kiosk program, the organizers noted. “By expanding the focus to serve military communities, the organizations aim to help curb the misuse of medications that, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is higher among service members than civilians. Through the safe medication disposal kiosks, military communities will now have access to a safe way to dispose of their unwanted or unused prescription medications.”
Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens, remarked that the pharmacy retailer is proud to work with organizations from throughout the health care community to make it even easier for people to dispose of their unwanted medications. “Since launching this program in 2016, we have been truly inspired by the response of the safe medication disposal program from communities around the country. The expansion of this program is a great example of health care organizations coming together in collaboration to address a real health crisis facing the country.”