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CVS Health, Cook County Sheriff urge consumers to safely dispose medications

CVS Health and Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart announced a joint effort to raise consumer awareness about the importance of safe medication disposal.

Sheriff Dart joined CVS Pharmacy's District Leader Pooja Patel at a CVS Pharmacy in Oak Park, Ill., to highlight the importance of safe disposal in protecting the environment and preventing drug abuse and accidental poisoning. The announcement came on the heels of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is sponsored by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and held on Oct. 27.

Approximately 150 CVS Pharmacy locations in Cook County will provide patients with information about the Sheriff's Prescription Drug Take Back Program on the packaging that accompanies the prescription, with information on finding the nearest safe disposal location.

"CVS Health is dedicated to helping address and prevent prescription drug abuse and misuse, which is why we have worked to increase access to and awareness of safe medication disposal options in the communities we serve," CVS Pharmacy vice president of professional services Tom Davis said. "Unused medications, especially opioids, should not be left in medicine cabinets where they could be at risk of misuse or diversion. We are proud to partner with Sheriff Dart to raise awareness of safe disposal, and we look forward to adding to our collection totals this weekend on take-back day."

The Sheriff's Prescription Drug Take-Back Program began in 2012 and currently collects nearly 2,000 pounds of unused pharmaceuticals per month via 80 sites throughout the county, the companies said.

Additionally, CVS Health has installed year-round safe medication disposal units in 45 CVS Pharmacy locations and 33 local police departments in Illinois to further increase community access to safe and convenient locations to properly dispose of unwanted medications. Together, these units already have collected more than seven metric tons, or 15,600 pounds, of unwanted medication.

"This partnership will help ensure more prescription drugs are safely disposed and not available for abuse," Sheriff Dart said. "In the midst of the unrelenting opioid crisis, this is an important step that can help ensure potentially dangerous prescriptions do not end up in the wrong hands."

According to a 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans misused controlled prescriptions and often obtained them from family and friends. In-home medicine cabinets are often the source of diverted prescriptions, making it critical for patients to properly dispose of unused prescriptions in a timely manner.

In addition to assisting with safe medication disposal, CVS Health also is working to combat opioid abuse by increasing access to the opioid overdose drug naloxone. CVS Pharmacy locations in 48 states, including Illinois, have standing orders, or similar protocols, which allow patients to obtain this medication without an individual prescription. CVS Health also has focused on opioid abuse prevention through the company's Pharmacists Teach program. This program connects CVS pharmacists to local schools to talk with students and parents about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, using a curriculum CVS Health developed with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Nearly 7,000 students and parents in Illinois have participated in the program.

Consumers can access the Sheriff's Prescription Drug Take-Back Program to find a safe, convenient disposal location by visiting the Cook County Sheriff's website. Supplemental sites for the county and other locations across the country can be found on the United State's Drug Enforcement Administration's Collection Site Locator.
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