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Expanding Access to Safe and Convenient Drug Disposal

October 24, 2018 | Pharmacy

More than six million Americans misused controlled prescriptions in 2016, with many obtaining them from family and friends. In fact, in-home medicine cabinets are often the source of diverted prescriptions – making the disposal of unused medicines an important strategy in preventing abuse.

On October 27, more than 100 CVS Pharmacy locations will join other community sites around the country to host law enforcement take-back events, allowing consumers to safely dispose of unwanted medication. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is hosted biannually by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide an opportunity for Americans to help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. To locate a Take Back Day disposal site, consumers can visit the DEA or find permanent disposal units near you through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Drug Disposal Locator tool.

Promoting Safe Disposal Year-Round

CVS Health has long been committed to helping increase access to and awareness of safe medication disposal options in the communities we serve. Every day, consumers can dispose of unused or unwanted medicines at 1,670 community and CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide.

Since announcing the expansion of our drug disposal program, CVS Health has installed safe medication disposal units in more than 750 CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide in addition to the more than 900 additional units donated to community locations such as police departments. Together, these units have collected more than 217 metric tons, or 480,000 pounds, of unwanted medication.

Leveraging a Comprehensive, Enterprise-Wide Approach

Safe disposal is one important element of our enterprise-wide approach to address opioid abuse. In addition to promoting safe medication disposal, CVS Health is working to encourage appropriate utilization, educate patients at the pharmacy and expand access to life-saving antidotes. For example:

  • As a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) and a retail pharmacy, CVS Health has implemented programs to help its clients reduce opioid utilization for members when clinically appropriate and strengthened retail pharmacist-led patient counseling on safe opioid use in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline, including:

    • Recent data shows that the number of prescriptions covered for more than a 7-day supply decreased by 71.9 percent for PBM clients adopting our utilization management criteria. Among those clients, the number of prescriptions covered for a 7-day supply or less is now 94.3 percent.

    • Our pharmacists educated nearly three million patients in the first half of this year on safe opioid use, risks, storage and disposal.

  • CVS Pharmacy has implemented a program to increase access to naloxone, a lifesaving drug that blocks opioid receptor sites to reverse the effects of an overdose, in 48 states. In these states, patients can access naloxone without an individual prescription.

For more information about our efforts in the fight against opioid abuse, visit Our Commitment to Fight Opioid Abuse and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.