CVS Health is installing medication disposal units in 19 of its pharmacies across Maryland. The company’s move is part of its effort to help prevent opioid misuse and abuse.
The kiosks allow patients to drop off unused pills from old prescriptions. Those pills are then handed over the police and disposed of in a safe manner.
Along with disposal kiosks, the CVS Health Foundation is helping fund opioid-related efforts in the local community. The foundation has awarded up to $2 million in grants to community health centers that focus on treating opioid addiction.
Baltimore’s Total Health Care will receive an $85,000 grant that will be used for the development and implementation of care models that will increase participation in the facility’s substance abuse treatment programs.
A total of 750 CVS Pharmacy locations across the country will have safe medication disposal kiosks. CVS has also donated kiosks to police stations in Rising Sun, Hampstead and Ellicott City. Across the U.S., the company has donated more than 900 disposal stations to police departments, which have collected more than 350,000 pounds of medication.
Maryland is one of many states that has been ravaged by the opioid crisis, but cities across the state are fighting back.
The city of Bel Air is joining other jurisdictions in the state by filing a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The Board of Town Commissioners passed a resolution that allows for a lawsuit to be filed.
The resolution states that instances of opioid addiction, abuse and overdose are “placing a heightened demand and strain on local services,” including “but not limited to, elevated number of citizens’ visits to the nearby hospital emergency room, addiction treatment services, the Bel Air Police Department, and the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company.”
In 2017, Bel Air saw a total of five overdose deaths and 33 non-fatal overdoses, according to police. In that same year, Hartford County saw 400 heroin-related overdoses, 79 of which were fatal. Those figures were much higher than the previous year, when the county saw 290 heroin-related overdoses, 59 of which were fatal.
Many states are taking action against opioid manufacturers and distributors. A suit filed by Tennessee revealed that Purdue Pharma, maker of the drug Oxycontin, encouraged doctors to continue prescribing the drug – up to five times the recommended dose.
Instead of cutting off doctors that were over-prescribing, Purdue was more aggressive, according to the lawsuit. Purdue allegedly made dozens of sales calls to its top prescribers to push more pills despite warnings from the police and pharmacists.
In many cases, the sales calls didn’t stop until doctors were arrested or on the verge of losing their medical licenses.
Purdue Pharma has denied all of the allegations in the Tennessee lawsuit. In fact, the company maintains that it helped identify doctors that were making questionable prescriptions.
Purdue Pharma says the lawsuit does not take into account the records of doctors it cut off and the 75 “suspicious health care providers” it reported in 2013.
A recent investigation conducted by a non-profit media outlet also found that more than 17,000 health practitioners have received handouts from pharmaceutical companies since 2009.