In an effort to combat an ongoing national opioid epidemic, CVS Health is installing medication disposal units throughout stores in Southern California to dispose of unused opioids. One of the disposal units will be located at the CVS on 2505 Santa Monica Boulevard.

A press release from CVS Health states the disposal units are intended to keep unused opioids away from potential users and abusers.

“These safe medication disposal units facilitate proper and timely disposal of opioids and other medications that could otherwise be diverted or misused if left sitting in a medicine cabinet in someone’s home,” Tom Davis, vice president of professional services for CVS Health said.  “An important way to prevent opioid abuse is to dispose of opioids in a timely manner when a patient is no longer using them.”

Davis says the Santa Monica Blvd location was chosen as it’s a centrally located 24-hour pharmacy, giving the community any time of day to dispose of opioids.

“These safe medication disposal units facilitate proper and timely disposal of opioids and other medications that could otherwise be diverted or misused if left sitting in a medicine cabinet in someone’s home,” he said. “An important way to prevent opioid abuse is to dispose of opioids in a timely manner when a patient is no longer using them. We are proud to have installed 62 medication disposal units inside CVS Pharmacy locations across the state of California to increase access to safe medication disposal. As part of our opioid safe use counseling for patients new to opioid therapy, CVS Pharmacists are also underscoring the importance of timely disposal, in addition to using the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible duration, consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

To dispose of any unused opioids, a CVS spokesperson said the action is as simple as it sounds: walk to the unit and drop off any unused drugs. Once deposited, a certified vendor picks eventually picks up the accumulation of unused opioids from the location and safely destroys them.

The company has a similar program with law enforcement agencies nationwide, donating 900 medication disposal units to police departments, collecting more than 350,000 pounds of unwanted medication. This program would be the first in California, and now Santa Monica, to allow opioids to be dropped off at a CVS location.

Davis said CVS Health has a long partnership with local law enforcement to raise awareness about the importance of safe medication disposal, particularly around the bi-annual National Prescription Take-Back Day, sponsored by the DEA. The partnership has grown into a grant program that has paid for the medication disposal units at some locations and the program is ongoing with applications available at CVS.com.

The opioid epidemic touches all of the communities CVS Health serves, and as a pharmacy innovation company, we are in a unique position to make a difference,” said Davis. “That’s why CVS Health is collaborating with community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement, healthcare professionals and many others to expand opioid education, encourage safe prescription drug disposal and advocate for policies that can help tackle this public health crisis.”

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than 115 people die each day due to opioid abuse.

The abuse of opioids such as prescription pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl has bred many consequences; costing the U.S. $78.5 billion a year in addiction treatment, criminal justice involvement and healthcare costs, opioid misuse has also given rise to neonatal abstinence syndrome and the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.