Walgreens Leads Fight Against Prescription Drug Abuse in Oklahoma with New Programs
OREANDA-NEWS. Walgreens today announced that it has implemented two programs in Oklahoma to combat drug abuse, part of a comprehensive national plan to address key contributors to the crisis.
Individuals in Oklahoma now have a safe and convenient way to dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired prescriptions, including controlled substances, and over-the-counter medications, at no cost. Walgreens has installed nine safe medication disposal kiosks in Walgreens locations across the state. The safe medication disposal kiosks make the disposal of medications easier while helping to reduce the misuse of medications and the rise in overdose deaths.
Walgreens has also made naloxone, a potentially lifesaving opioid antidote, available without requiring a prescription from an individual’s physician in all of its Oklahoma pharmacies in accordance with state pharmacy regulations.
“By making safe medication disposal kiosks available in select Oklahoma stores and expanding to other states this year, Walgreens is taking an important first step to curb the misuse of medications throughout the country,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens President of Pharmacy and Retail Operations. “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 Oklahoma, Walgreens today is hosting at one of its Oklahoma City stores Governor Mary Fallin, State Senator John Sparks, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health Terry Cline and Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Commissioner Terri White.
“I appreciate Walgreens taking this step to help Oklahoma and other states limit the dangerous abuse of prescription drugs by introducing these medication disposal kiosks,” said Governor Fallin. “It is also good to know that Walgreens will dispense naloxone, without a prescription, to treat opioid overdoses.”
Naloxone is now available without requiring a prescription at more than 115 Walgreens pharmacies throughout the state. The medication 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. When naloxone is dispensed instructions are provided on how to administer the medication, which includes calling 911. Naloxone is not a substitute for medical care, and anyone who is administered the medication should seek immediate medical attention.
“By making naloxone available without a prescription, we are making it easier for Oklahoma families and caregivers to help their loved ones in need,” said Howard Atlas, Walgreens Regional Vice President for Oklahoma. “We are committed to making naloxone more accessible in the communities we serve.”
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 1,600 Walgreens pharmacies throughout the states of Alabama, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington and now Oklahoma. 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.
In states where a prescription is required, Walgreens is available and eager to work with regulators to help update rules to allow for dispensing of naloxone without a prescription.
The installation of safe medication disposal kiosks in Oklahoma 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. Safe medication disposal kiosks are also available in select Walgreens pharmacies in California and Washington.
“Safely disposing of unused medications is an important step in protecting families from potential misuse and abuse of prescription medications,” said Commissioner White. “Walgreens commitment to the community is commendable, and is making a difference in our broader initiative to prevent and address prescription drug abuse statewide.”
Drug abuse continues to be a public health and safety risk. More Americans die every day from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. About 780 Oklahomans died following drug overdoses in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That same year, the CDC reported a national total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths, which include death from prescription and illicit drugs. That is a 6.5 percent increase from 2013 and a 140 percent increase since 2000.
Walgreens is also collaborating with the American Pharmacists Association Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies to continue to offer a substance abuse education program for pharmacists and student pharmacists.
In addition to offering a year-round solution for individuals to dispose of their medications, Walgreens 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.
Walgreens, one of the nation's largest drugstore chains, is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. More than 8 million customers interact with Walgreens each day in communities across America, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice. Walgreens operates 8,173 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Walgreens digital business includes Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, Beauty.com and VisionDirect.com. More than 400 Walgreens stores offer Healthcare Clinic or other provider retail clinic services.