Walgreens combats drug abuse with installation of medication disposal kiosks across California
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreens on Friday announced that it has installed 50 safe medication disposal kiosks in Walgreens drug stores across California, representing the first of two programs in California to combat drug abuse.
“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,” stated Alex Gourlay, president of Walgreens. “As a pharmacy, we are committed to playing a role in what must be a comprehensive solution to prevent prescription drug and opioid abuse.”
To kick off the launch of the safe medication disposal program in California, Walgreens will host a series of events with local lawmakers working to fight the drug abuse crisis in the state leading up to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 30. U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, representing California’s 23rd congressional district and State Assembly Member Shannon Grove will participate in an event Friday in Bakersfield.
“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," McCarthy said. "Addiction tears apart families, it uproots communities and it deprives Americans from grasping their dreams and opportunities. 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.”
Walgreens also is working to make naloxone, a potentially lifesaving opioid antidote, available without requiring a prescription from an individual’s physician at California pharmacies. The medication is currently available with a prescription in California and can be used in the event of an overdose to reverse the effects of heroin or other opioid drugs, 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,” said Roberto Valencia, Walgreens operations VP for the Western Region. “Together, these programs will go a long way to help address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin overdose.”
In February, Walgreens announced plans to make naloxone available without a prescription in 35 states and Washington D.C. in accordance with each state’s pharmacy regulations. Since its announcement, naloxone has been made available without a prescription in more than 1,300 Walgreens pharmacies throughout the states of Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
When implementation of the program is complete, naloxone will be available without a prescription in more than 5,800 of Walgreens nearly 8,200 stores.
The installation of safe medication disposal kiosks in California is part of a nationwide effort and is expected to be completed at more than 500 Walgreens locations later this year. The kiosks at Walgreens pharmacies will be available during regular pharmacy hours (24 hours a day at most of these locations) and will offer one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidentally used or intentionally misused by someone else.
Walgreens also continues to participate in DEA sponsored National Prescription Drug Take Back Days, serving as a collection point in communities for law enforcement to collect unwanted, unused or expired medications for safe disposal.