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CDC-prescription-overdose-twitter1_hmLast year, Dr. Reema Hammoud of Sedgwick shared a blog regarding National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will be held April 30, 2016. However, thanks to Walgreens, it will soon be easier to safely dispose of unwanted and expired prescription medications every day. Earlier this month, Walgreens announced it will install medication disposal kiosks in more than 500 drugstores nationwide in an effort to combat prescription drug abuse and the rise in overdose deaths. The installations, which began in California, will expand to 39 more states this year. Most of the store locations with the kiosks are open around the clock. The retailer is providing an investment that will save lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare costs related to opioid abuse exceed $72 billion annually. More important than the financial cost, new CDC statistics just released in January confirm the excruciating and still-growing impact of prescription drug abuse on American lives. The study evaluated drug overdoses from 2000 to 2014 and found that the death rate from drug overdoses increased 137%, with a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids. Overdose death rates increase every year; 61% of drug overdose deaths in 2014 involved an opioid.

“Take-back programs are an important and easy way for the public to anonymously dispose of their unwanted, unused or expired medications,” stated DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg in connection with Walgreens’ recent announcement. “We look forward to the day when safe drug disposal options are commonplace and hope this action inspires others to create similar programs.”

It is vitally important that healthcare providers, nurse case managers and claims management professionals continue to inform providers and patients about the availability of facilities to dispose of unused drugs, in addition to increasing awareness of the risks associated with drug sharing or leaving drugs accessible to friends or family members.

We congratulate and heartily thank Walgreens for putting safety at the corner of happy and healthy!

Take a moment to revisit Dr. Hammoud’s article on our blog.

James Harvey, SVP, Managed Care Products & Product Development

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