CVS Health encourages National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day participation

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CVS Health encourages National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day participation

By Sandra Levy - 04/24/2019
CVS Health is reminding Americans to clean out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of unused medications on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, this Saturday, April 27.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in-home medicine cabinets are often a source of diverted medications, and CVS Pharmacy recommends that patients dispose unused medicines promptly, safely, and securely.

On April 27, select CVS Pharmacy locations in 27 states will join other community sites around the country to host law enforcement take-back events, providing opportunities to safely dispose of unwanted medication. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is hosted biannually by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to help dispose of unused medications and reduce opportunities for their misuse.

To help make year-round disposal options more accessible, CVS Pharmacy said it has installed safe medication disposal units in more than 1,000 CVS Pharmacy locations across the country and has donated 950 additional units to community locations such as police departments. Together, these units have collected more than 324 metric tons, or 715,000 pounds, of unwanted medication that might otherwise have been diverted, misused or ended up in our water supplies.

CVS Pharmacy plans to roll out additional safe medication disposal units across the country by the end of 2019, as part of a commitment announced at the end of last year to help provide more disposal options in our communities. The company also is partnering with Google Maps to make it easier for consumers to find year-round medication disposal options.

"When patients leave unused medications, especially opioids, in a medicine cabinet, there is a risk that those medications might be misused or diverted, which is why we have worked to help 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. "Providing options for the proper disposal of unused medications is just one of the ways that CVS Health is working to help combat opioid misuse, as part of our commitment to helping build healthier communities across the country."

CVS Health's community education program, Pharmacists Teach, connects CVS pharmacists to local communities to talk with students and parents about the dangers of misusing prescription drugs, using a curriculum developed with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The company has reached nearly 475,000 students and parents nationwide through the program.

The company also has increased access to the opioid overdose drug, naloxone, in 48 states and Washington D.C., to allow patients to obtain the medication without an individual prescription. Following the Surgeon General's Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose in April 2018, CVS Pharmacy expanded its efforts to educate patients about naloxone. Today, all CVS Pharmacy locations have in-store signage to inform patients about the availability and accessibility of the potentially life-saving drug.

CVS Caremark also helps its pharmacy benefit management clients reduce opioid utilization through coverage limits aligned with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. To-date, for clients adopting these utilization management criteria, the number of prescriptions covered for more than a 7-day supply decreased by 71.9%. Among those clients, the number of prescriptions covered for a 7-day supply or less is now 94.3%. CVS Pharmacy also provides patient counseling consistent with the CDC Guideline for patients new to opioid therapy.

Aetna, a CVS Health business unit, is also making progress in its five-year plan to help fight opioid addiction through prevention, intervention and patient support programming. In the first year of its strategy, Aetna has seen an approximately 60% increase in the rate of treatment with non-opioid interventions in members with chronic pain, and the rate of opioid prescriptions written for seven or more days after an acute procedure decreased about 50% among Aetna members.

"Our company can play an important role in helping ensure appropriate access to pain medications while educating patients on their safe use and disposal," Davis said. "We remain committed to prioritizing prevention and education among our patients and their families as part of our purpose of helping people on their path to better health."