DEERFIELD, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Walgreens today announced that it has implemented two programs in Washington to combat drug abuse, part of a comprehensive national plan to address key contributors to the crisis.
Individuals in Washington 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 10 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 Washington pharmacies in accordance with state pharmacy regulations.
“By making safe medication disposal kiosks available in select Washington 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.”
"The impact of drug abuse has been felt by our families and friends across the state of Washington. It is a crisis that impacts people of every age, income level and race and involves prescription medications and illegal drugs,” Governor Jay Inslee said. “I commend Walgreens for making the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone available directly from a pharmacist, and for providing safe disposal options for unwanted medications. To address this epidemic we need the public and private sector working together on options such as this for our communities. Please visit www.stopoverdose.org to learn how to prevent and respond to an opioid overdose.”
To kick off the launch of the safe medication disposal program in Washington, Walgreens today is hosting at its Kirkland store U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and State Rep. Roger Goodman.
“The opioid crisis is tearing apart families across the country, including in Washington state,” DelBene said. “Addressing this epidemic will require a multipronged approach – including prescription drug take-back programs, which are an important tool in preventing the misuse and abuse of medications. I’m pleased to see Walgreens taking this important step in our community with their safe medication disposal kiosk. We must continue working together to fully address this crisis, and in Congress I will keep pushing to dedicate the resources needed to combat the epidemic of addiction.”
Naloxone is now available without requiring a prescription in more than 130 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 Washington families and caregivers to help their loved ones in need,” said Sanjay Bhana, Walgreens Regional Vice President for the Pacific Northwest. “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 and now Washington. 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 Washington 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.
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 980 Washingtonians 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.
Select Washington Walgreens with safe medication disposal kiosks:
Bellingham -- 1070 E. Sunset Drive
Burien -- 1465 Ambaum Blvd.
Kent-- 25605 104th Ave. SE
Kirkland -- 12405 NE 85th St.
Lakewood -- 9505 Bridgeport Way SW
Lynnwood -- 2075 Highway 99
Pasco -- 5506 N. Road 68
Spokane -- 7905 N. Division St.
Tacoma -- 15225 Pacific Ave. S
Vancouver -- 1905 SE. 164th Ave.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com), 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.