Walgreens said Wednesday that its safe medication disposal program is the first ongoing national effort of its kind by a retailer to combat the national drug abuse crisis and help fight the rise in overdose-related deaths in the United States.
Walgreens medication disposal kiosks, available during regular pharmacy hours, were installed in more than 600 pharmacies across 45 states and the District of Columbia — more than 100 kiosks above the program’s original goal. The 72 tons of unwanted medication collected equal the weight of about 40 midsize cars.
Also as part of its effort to fight drug abuse, Walgreens will again participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-sponsored National Prescription Drug Take Back Day this Saturday.
In addition to stores with year-round safe medication disposal kiosks, other Walgreens stores across the country will serve as a collection point on Saturday for law enforcement to collect medicines for safe disposal.
The kiosks allow people to safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, at no cost. Use of the kiosks ensures that the medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused.
Walgreens has also worked to make naloxone, a lifesaving opioid overdose antidote, available without a prescription at its pharmacies in 44 states and Washington, D.C., adding nine states to its original goal announced last year.
The chain said that in the few remaining states where a prescription is required, it’s ready to work with regulators to help update rules to enable dispensing of naloxone without a script.
“Since we launched this program last year, we have been truly encouraged by how our patients have embraced the opportunities to safely dispose of their medications,” Richard Ashworth, president of pharmacy and retail operations at Walgreens, said in a statement. “Simply put, this epidemic is one of the most serious issues facing our country today, and this program is making a difference in helping fight against prescription drug abuse.”