Baker-Polito Administration Announces First Statewide Safe Medication Disposal Program with Walgreens to Fight Substance Misuse
Take-back program allows safe and convenient disposal of unwanted medications in Walgreens Pharmacies across Massachusetts
QUINCY, MA— Governor Charlie Baker, joined by state and local officials, today announced that Walgreens is the first pharmacy in Massachusetts to launch a new safe and convenient medication disposal program to reduce prescription drug misuse while visiting a new kiosk at the Walgreens Quincy Avenue store in Quincy. Walgreens installed 13 drug take-back kiosks in pharmacies throughout Massachusetts for easy disposal of unwanted, unused or expired medications at no cost and no questions asked.
“Opioid misuse and addiction can often start at home in our own medicine cabinets, and today we are pleased to partner with Walgreens to take more steps toward combating this public health crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Increasing drug take back opportunities and installing free safe disposal kiosks in pharmacies across the Commonwealth is another step in the right direction as the Commonwealth works collaboratively to bend the trend on opioid and heroin misuse.”
Installation of the statewide kiosks is another step forward in the Commonwealth’s commitment to battling the opioid and heroin epidemic that has impacted communities from Cape Cod to Western Massachusetts. Take-back kiosks are located at Walgreens stores in East Boston, Fall River, Framingham, Gloucester, Lowell, Malden, Quincy, Randolph, Roxbury, Stoneham, Stoughton, Springfield and Worcester.
“We applaud Walgreens for responding to our call for safe, convenient ways to dispose of unused medications,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “People aren’t always sure how to safely dispose of unneeded medicines. Having these receptacles readily accessible to the public will help to reduce misuse of medication and safely eliminate unneeded prescription medication.”
In addition, Walgreens, as well as several other pharmacies statewide, have made naloxone available without requiring a prescription from a physician. Naloxone is a life-saving drug which is administered in the event of an overdose and immediately reverses the effects of heroin or other opioids.
The kiosks are heavy metal containers with a top, one-way opening drop slot and lock that will be mounted to the ground or wall with direct or video surveillance while the pharmacy is open. Individuals can dispose of all prescriptions including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications. The kiosks at Walgreens pharmacies will be available for use during regular pharmacy hours.
“We need to make the safe disposal of medication easier, and these kiosks do just that,” said Walgreens Regional Vice President for Massachusetts Brad Ulrich, “Using a safe medication disposal kiosk at a participating Walgreens is one of the best ways to ensure medications are not accidently used – or intentionally misused – by someone else.”
To date, Walgreens has installed take-back kiosks in more than 500 of its stores in 35 states.
“Governor Baker’s commitment to tackling the tragedy of substance abuse affecting so many of our families across the Commonwealth has been unrelenting since the day he took office, and I applaud Walgreens for echoing that commitment with this new program. There is much we must continue to do, but every new tool like this is vitally important,” said Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch.
“With the number of overdose-related deaths on the rise, the legislature has made tackling the opioid epidemic a priority. Partnering with Governor Baker and his administration, we have enacted landmark legislation aimed at fighting this public health crisis. It’s also important to partner with the private sector, and having a business like Walgreens join us in this fight is a big step. These free, anonymous drug take-back kiosks for unused medications are a positive development in some of our hardest-hit areas, like the city of Quincy,” said Representative Bruce J. Ayers.
“We’re pleased today to see another ally join the fight against prescription drug misuse, an issue that has fueled the crisis we face today,” said State Senator John F. Keenan. “The Commonwealth is asking every stakeholder to join this fight. We are preparing to implement the nation’s first statewide drug takeback requirement at the manufacturer level, and I commend Walgreens for this step to help make that program successful.”
Fighting the ongoing opioid epidemic has been a priority of the Baker-Polito Administration since day one. Earlier this year, Governor Baker signed landmark opioid legislation into law to address the deadly opioid and heroin epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth. The law includes numerous recommendations from the Governor’s opioid working group, including prevention education for students and doctors, and the first law in the nation to establish a seven-day limit on first-time opioid prescriptions. It also requires that doctors check the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) database before writing a prescription for a Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 narcotic.
In 2015, the Governor’s Opioid Working Group released recommendations and a comprehensive Action Plan aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic. These short and long-term recommendations focus on prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery support. Approximately 90 percent of the initiatives in the Governor’s action plan are complete or underway.
More information is available at mass.gov/stopaddiction.