CVS/pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health, is reinforcing its longstanding commitment in the fight against the nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse with a number of efforts launching this past month.
Most notably, CVS/pharmacy has expanded the availability of the opioid overdose reversal medicine, naloxone, in several states, including New Jersey. The medication was already available at CVS/pharmacy without a prescription in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Naloxone is now available without a prescription at CVS/pharmacy locations in 12 additional states: Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.
“Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin. Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives,” said Tom Davis, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Practices at CVS/pharmacy. “While all 7,800 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide can continue to order and dispense naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states.”
In addition, CVS Health is currently participating in a research project with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital to support a demonstration project of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits to help reduce opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
CVS/pharmacy has also renewed its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, in which it has teamed up with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to donate drug collection units to police departments around the country to help their communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances.
“Our Safer Communities program has donated more than 400 drug collection units to local law enforcement around the country since last year, resulting in almost seven tons of unused medication being collected in our communities,” said Davis. “We are pleased to continue this program with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and provide a permanent drug disposal solution at local police departments.”
Police departments interested in receiving a drug collection unit can apply at www.cvs.com/safercommunities.
Also, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will hold National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, September 26. On that day, hundreds of CVS/pharmacy locations around the country will host local law enforcement collection events in store parking lots from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. To locate a participating collection site, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.
Other on-going initiatives at CVS/pharmacy to combat prescription drug abuse include:
- Availability of postage-paid Environmental Return System envelopes at all of its pharmacies with which customers can send their unwanted medications for secure and environmentally-safe disposal.
- Identification of physicians who exhibit extreme patterns of prescribing high risk drugs such as pain medications and suspension of dispensing their controlled substance prescriptions.
- Advocating at the federal and state levels to implement policy changes to curb prescription drug abuse, such as mandatory electronic prescribing of controlled substances and improved prescription drug monitoring programs.