The drug chain said Friday that the kiosks provide Californians with a safe, convenient way to discard unwanted, unused or expired medications — including prescripton drugs, controlled substances and over-the-counter medicines — at no cost.
To kick off the drug disposal program in California, Walgreens plans to host events with local lawmakers fighting the drug abuse crisis in the state, leading up to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 30.
“By making safe medication disposal kiosks available in select California stores and expanding to other states this year, Walgreens is taking an important first step to curb the misuse of medications throughout the country,” Walgreens president Alex Gourlay said in a statement. “As a pharmacy, we are committed to playing a role in what must be a comprehensive solution to prevent prescription drug and opioid abuse.”
U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), representing California’s 23rd congressional district, and State Assembly Member Shannon Grove (R.), who represents the 34th Assembly District, participated in a Walgreens medication disposal event in Bakersfield, Calif.
“Our country is facing an epidemic of prescription drug abuse and opioid overdoses. In our community, more than 160 people over the past six years have been sent to the emergency room for opioid overdoses. Addiction tears apart families, it uproots communities and it deprives Americans from grasping their dreams and opportunities,” McCarthy stated. “In Congress, I have worked with my colleagues to prepare legislation to support local communities and to supplement the efforts of local law enforcement and pharmacies as they work together to roll back this epidemic. To successfully achieve this, we need strong community partners. Walgreens is at the forefront of curbing drug diversion through its safe disposal program, and I’m proud that our community will be among the early beneficiaries.”
California represents the latest state in Walgreens’ plan to roll out safe drug disposal kiosks to more than 500 stores in 39 states and Washington, D.C., by later this year.
In the other part of its strategy to help combat drug abuse, Walgreens said it’s working to make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available without a prescription at its California pharmacies. The medication is currently by prescription in California and is administered by injection or nasal spray.
“In addition to making it easier and safer for Californians to drop off their unwanted, unused or expired medications in our participating stores, we’re also working to expand access to naloxone in this state and others,” commented Roberto Valencia, operations vice president for the western region at Walgreens. “Together, these programs will go a long way to help address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin overdose.”
In February, Walgreens said it aims to make naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and the District of Columbia, encompassing more than 5,800 of its nearly 8,200 stores. Since the announcement, naloxone has been made available without a prescription in over 1,300 Walgreens pharmacies in Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Walgreens added that it also continues to participate in DEA-sponsored National Prescription Drug Take Back Days by serving as a community collection point for law enforcement to accept unwanted, unused or expired medications for safe disposal.