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By VIVIAN MEZA
PHOENIX – Arizona is expanding drop-off services for unused and old medications to 13 pharmacies and additional police stations in a continuing battle against opioid abuse.
“We know that so many times it’s friends, family, grandparents, kids that end up getting access to these dangerous opioids,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said, announcing the program inside a central Phoenix pharmacy. “We need to have a place where we can successfully drop them off and dispose of them.”
The point of the medication-disposal boxes is to remove the temptation for abuse by getting rid of highly addictive opioids.
“Many times people assume that because something comes from a pharmacy that it’s safe,” said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for Phoenix Police. “It’s not uncommon to see members of the community who become addicted to legal opioids become addicted to illegal opioids because they’re easier for them to obtain.”
CVS Pharmacy has installed the boxes at eight stores in the Phoenix area and one in Tucson, with others in smaller communities of Bullhead City, Globe, Lake Havasu City and Taylor.
Public-safety departments in Tolleson and two other law-enforcement areas outside of Maricopa County also have the units. Phoenix Police plan to install several, Thompson said.
The move comes more than a year after Walgreens stores began providing medication disposal kiosks and Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation to allow the sale of opioid-overdose reversal drug without a prescription.
Both pharmacy chains offer the drop-off boxes at stores nationwide.
A report by the Arizona Department of Health Services shows more than 8,500 possible opioid overdoses in the past year. About 16 percent of the suspected cases were fatal.
Thompson said that for people who may be uncomfortable going to a police station, locations in pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens make it easier and more convenient to properly dispose of unwanted or unused medications.
People don’t have to fill out paperwork to drop off prescription, over-the-counter or liquid medications but can just place them in bins, usually near a pharmacy counter, during store hours. Needles, syringes and inhalers are not allowed.
CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens each list locations on their websites. Go to CVS here and Walgreens here.
CVS Pharmacy also is donating more than $100,000 to Arizona nonprofits that provide substance-abuse programs, said Thomas Moriarity, executive vice president of CVS Health.
For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.