Safe Drug Disposal is Key to Preventing Abuse

About two-thirds of teens who report abusing prescription drugs obtain them from family, friends and acquaintances.Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 2016 Fortunately, this problem is highly preventable through the safe disposal of unwanted medications.

As a pharmacy innovation company, safe disposal is a key component of our drug abuse prevention strategy. That’s why we launched our Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program, through which police departments can apply to receive a drug collection unit to help their communities safely discard unwanted medications, including controlled substances.

Since 2014, we have donated 800 drug collection units to police departments in 43 states. To date, the program has collected more than 100 metric tons of prescription drugs. These collection receptacles not only prevent medication diversion and abuse, they also serve an important environmental purpose by preventing improperly disposed of medications from contaminating our water supply.

“The Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program allows CVS Pharmacy to team up with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to provide our communities with a permanent drug disposal solution at their local police departments,” says Tom Davis, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS Pharmacy. “It’s an important part of our abuse prevention strategy, which includes expanding access to naloxone without a prescription and teen education efforts.”

We support ongoing prescription drug disposal efforts in a variety of other ways:

  • Any law enforcement agency wishing to conduct a local take-back event may use a portion of our parking lot as a collection site.

  • We promote permanent local drug disposal collection site programs through customized in-store signage.

  • Postage-paid Environmental Return System envelopes are available at all CVS Pharmacy locations. Using these envelopes, customers can send their unwanted medications for secure and environmentally safe disposal.

  • On designated National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days, hundreds of CVS Pharmacy locations have served as collection sites for unwanted medication. Since 2013, there have been more than 800 take-back events hosted by CVS Pharmacy locations.

  • CVS Health has launched a new tool as part of the drug abuse prevention resources on where visitors can search by ZIP code to find a safe, year-round medication disposal location.  

For more information about the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program, email Police departments that wish to apply for a drug collection unit can do so online.

This article was originally published on October 20, 2016, and was updated to reflect current data on September 21, 2017.