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CVS Pharmacy expands efforts to combat opioid abuse in Arizona

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

PHOENIX — As a way to help combat opioid abuse, CVS Pharmacy is expanding its safe medication disposal program in Arizona.

The company announced Wednesday it will add medication disposal units at 13 CVS Pharmacy stores across Arizona. A list of locations that will offer the units is available on its website.

Thomas Moriarty, chief policy and external affairs officer at CVS Health, said this is an effort to help facilitate proper and timely disposal of opioids and other medications.

“A byproduct of the overprescribing of opioids is that these powerful medications are stocked up in medicine cabinets where they can be misused,” he said.

In total, 750 medication disposal units will be added to CVS Pharmacy locations across the country.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the medication disposal units provide “another tool in our toolbox to provide other options to make sure that we dispose medications.”

“We know that so many times it’s friends, it’s family, it’s grandparents, it’s our kids who end up getting access to these dangerous opioids,” Brnovich added. “We want to make sure that they’re not available.”

CVS Pharmacy has been working with local law enforcement to dispose of medications since 2014.

As part of the effort, it has donated nearly 900 medication disposal units to police departments across the country, including some in Arizona. To date, more than 350,000 pounds, or 158 metric tons, of unwanted medication have been collected at those units.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson, spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said they have facilities to drop off unwanted prescription drugs and other medications. However, he said some people are apprehensive about going to a police department to drop them off.

“Now, CVS has offered them an opportunity to be able to dispose of that in a proper manner and have it not fall into the wrong hands,” Thompson said.

CVC Pharmacy also announced Wednesday that as part of it’s $2 million national commitment to fund opioid recovery programs, it is awarding grants to two Arizona nonprofit organizations that are working to fight and prevent opioid abuse.

ICAN, a family-centered youth service organization in Chandler, is receiving a $25,000 grant, and El Rio Health in Tucson will receive a $85,000 grant.

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