CVS boosts initiatives to fight prescription-drug abuse

CVS/pharmacy is launching initiatives this month aimed at fighting prescription-drug abuse.

Among these efforts is increasing the availability of the opioid-overdose reversal medicine naloxone in several states. It is now available without a prescription at CVS pharmacies in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Arkansas, California, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin.

"Over 44,000 people die from accidental drug overdoses every year in the United States, and most of those deaths are from opioids, including controlled-substance pain medication and illegal drugs such as heroin," Tom Davis, vice president of pharmacy professional practices at CVS, said. "Naloxone is a safe and effective antidote to opioid overdoses, and by providing access to this medication in our pharmacies without a prescription in more states, we can help save lives.

"While all 7,800 CVS/pharmacy stores nationwide can continue to order and dispense naloxone when a prescription is presented, we support expanding naloxone availability without a prescription and are reviewing opportunities to do so in other states," Davis said.

Additionally, CVS Health is now participating in a research project with Boston Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital to back a demonstration project of pharmacy-based naloxone rescue kits to help stem opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

CVS/pharmacy also has renewed its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, a collaboration with Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

"Our Safer Communities program has donated more than 400 drug-collection units to local law enforcement around the country since last year, resulting in almost seven tons of unused medication being collected in our communities," Davis said. "We are pleased to continue this program with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and provide a permanent drug-disposal solution at local police departments."

Police departments can apply for drug-collection units at www.cvs.com/safercommunities.

On Sept. 26, hundreds of CVS/pharmacy locations around the country hosted local law-enforcement drug-collection events in CVS store parking lots.

Other CVS initiatives to reduce prescription-drug abuse include:

--Postage-paid Environmental Return System envelopes at all of its pharmacies with which customers can mail their unwanted medications to a disposal location

--Informing customers about physicians who exhibit patterns of prescribing high-risk drugs

--Advocating at the federal and state levels to implement policy changes to curb prescription-drug abuse

For more information about CVS/pharmacy and CVS Health, visit www.cvshealth.com.

CVS Health is reinventing pharmacy to have a more active, supportive role in health care.

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