CHICAGO – Walgreens is installing medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 drugstores across the U.S. in an effort to combat prescription drug abuse.
The initiative, announced Tuesday, will allow for the safe disposal of unwanted and expired medications, including opioids and other controlled substances, ensuring the drugs are not misused. The installation of kiosks began in California and will expand to 39 states this year.
Most of the kiosk locations will be at 24-hour Walgreens stores, the Chicago-area company said.
An estimated 6.5 million Americans misused a prescription drug in 2014, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths, including prescription and illegal drugs, during the same year.
Improper disposal of medications may have environmental implications, with the Environmental Protection Agency recommending pharmaceutical take-back collection programs over flushing or other methods. Studies have found, for example, fish absorbing enough antidepressants in waterways to affect their behavior.
Walgreens also said it will make naloxone available without a prescription at more than 5,800 of its drugstores this year. Naloxone can be used to reverse the effects of heroin or other opioids in the event of an overdose. The medication became available last week at Walgreens pharmacies in New York, and will roll out to Indiana and Ohio stores this month.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.