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Walgreens expands drug-disposal program near military bases

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10/06/2017 | 11:37am CEST

"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."

Alex Gourlay

President, Walgreens

Health care organizations AmerisourceBergen, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Pfizer and Prime Therapeutics join Walgreens to fight the opioid abuse crisis in the U.S. by expanding the availability of safe medication disposal kiosks to an additional 900 Walgreens stores near military bases and other areas where the problem has challenged communities. When the expansion is complete, kiosks will be available in about 1,500 Walgreens stores nationwide.

Reports show the opioid crisis has especially affected military members. The National Institute of Drug Abuse says there is are higher rates of use of opioids among service members. Safe medication disposal kiosks allow military communities a way to dispose of unwanted/unused prescription medications.

In 2016, Walgreen's announced the initial drug-disposal program, installing 600 kiosks across 45 states and D.C. Since that time, these kiosks have collected 155 tons of unwanted medications in 18 months. The goal in this expansion is to collect an additional 300 tons of unwanted/unused medications.

"We are proud to work with organizations from throughout the health care community to make it even easier for people to dispose of their unwanted medications," said Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens. "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."

Bob Mauch, Executive Vice President & Group President, Pharmaceutical Distribution & Strategic Global Sourcing for AmerisourceBergen said, "As a supply-chain partner, we are committed to finding comprehensive solutions to mitigate the opioid epidemic impacting our communities, and we understand the important role we play in helping to combat medication diversion and abuse. Innovation and collaboration between all parties involved in the delivery and regulation of health care will drive the greatest progress in impacting the opioid crisis, and the diverse partnership supporting the expansion of Walgreens highly successful safe medication disposal program is a strong example of the type of collaboration that's needed."

"Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) is proud to support this critical and timely initiative so that more communities across the country will have access to safe medication disposal," Kim Holland, vice president of state affairs for BCBSA said. "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. 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."

"Pfizer is committed to addressing the prevention, treatment, and effective response to the growing opioid abuse in our country. This partnership reaffirms our support for measures that promote the proper and safe disposal of unwanted medicines to deter prescription drug diversion and to protect the environment," Pfizer's Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall said.

A recent survey through Prime Therapeutics found only 17 percent of respondents had spoken with their doctor about safe drug disposal. Additionally, the report found about a quarter of Americans taking opioids keep unused portions rather than disposing them. Only 27 percent reported using a take-back or another safe-disposal program.

"This crisis calls for an all-hands-on-deck approach," Jonathan Gavras, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Prime Therapeutics said. "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."

Helping to achieve the goal to collect 300 additional tons of unwanted medication in two years is the #ItEndsWithUs campaign, recently launched by Walgreens to educate teens on the opioid epidemic. The campaign provides teens with online resources to end the opioid epidemic and positive steps they can take within their communities, including how to dispose of unwanted medications. The 900 additional kiosks will be installed over the next 10 months.

Safe medication disposal kiosks allow individuals to safely and conveniently dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, at no cost. The kiosks at Walgreens pharmacies are available during regular pharmacy hours and offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else.

"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."

Alex Gourlay

President, Walgreens

© © 2017 The Sheppard Senator., source Newspapers

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