CAMP HILL, Pa. — In an effort to combat drug abuse and misuse, Rite Aid Corp. said Friday it plans to install 100 medication disposal units in selected pharmacies over the next year. The units offer people a free, safe and convenient way to dispose of expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, helping to reduce the chances of accidental or intentional misuse.
Rite Aid president and chief operating officer Kermit Crawford joined Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) to officially unveil the company’s first in-store medication disposal unit at a press event held at the Rite Aid pharmacy in Lemoyne, Pa.
“Rite Aid is committed to doing its part to address this serious issue affecting our country, and the availability of medication disposal units inside select Rite Aid pharmacies is an important next step in our comprehensive approach,” said Crawford. “Our pharmacists, as medication experts, are often asked for information on how to properly dispose of medication that’s no longer needed, so we are proud to be able to offer in-store disposal and DisposeRx packets as solutions to our patients and customers.”
Perry said, “Rite Aid’s safe medication disposal program brings business sense to combatting the growing public health threat and tragedy that is the opioid crisis. This is one step in the comprehensive approach to stop opioid abuse, and I applaud Rite Aid for taking such great initiative. With the help of families, practitioners, public health experts, drug companies and community action, we can put a stop to the opioid abuse epidemic.”
Rite Aid said late last month that all of its more than 2,500 pharmacies would provide free DisposeRx packets to patients with new opioid prescriptions and patients with chronic opioid prescriptions every six months. DisposeRx packets contain a biodegradable powder that, when mixed with water in the prescription vial, dissolves drugs, forming a viscous gel that can be discarded safely in the trash. Rite Aid is the first drug store chain to offer DisposeRx packets.
In April, the drug chain announced that naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, was available at all of its locations without a prescription. The increased access to naloxone supports the surgeon general’s recent Advisory on Naloxone and Opioid Overdose. Additionally, all patients with opioid prescriptions will receive educational information on opioid use, safe storage and disposal as well as proper use of naloxone, and all patients with new opioid prescriptions will receive required counseling on their prescription from Rite Aid pharmacists.
In addition to supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for prescribing opioids, Rite Aid participates in prescription drug monitoring programs including a red flag process for pharmacists to regularly review prescriptions for patients not known by the pharmacy or where there may be concerns or suspicions of misuse. The company also provides ongoing education and training of Rite Aid pharmacists, covering such topics as risk factors for opioid abuse; how to identify symptoms of an overdose and what to do in the event of an overdose; an overview of the various naloxone therapies available along with proper administration of each and recommendations for follow-up care.
At www.riteaid.com, visitors can search for a disposal site in their community, learn how to properly dispose of medication at home, access resources provided by the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and find information on treatment for drug abuse and addiction.
Rite Aid’s pharmacy benefit manager, EnvisionRx, which is a division of the EnvisionRxOptions subsidiary of Rite Aid, also offers a comprehensive opioid and pain management program, EnvisionCare Pain Management. The program includes preemptive prescription strategies, such as limiting first-time fills to seven days, prior authorizations on certain medications, and shortened windows to refill prescriptions. This comprehensive program aligns with the health care company’s overall pain management strategy, as well as the guidelines set by the CDC.
The Rite Aid Foundation is addressing the issue of drug abuse and misuse as part of its commitment to creating safe and healthy environments for children and teens. In March, the foundation’s KidCents program announced a three-year, $1.13 million commitment to EverFi, the nation’s leading technology innovator, to bring the Prescription Drug Safety program to high schools in markets served by Rite Aid stores. The program uses an evidence-based, public health approach to empower high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs.
The foundation also continues to expand its KidCents Safe Medication Disposal Program. Launched in September 2017, the program provides law enforcement agencies in communities served by Rite Aid stores with free medication disposal units for individuals to safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications. As of this month, more than 175 law enforcement agencies across the country are participating in the KidCents Safe Medication Disposal Program, with nearly 270 units available in 18 states.