Walgreen’s unveils Safe Medication Kiosk for prescription drug drop-off

MORGANTOWN — Walgreen’s on Chestnut Ridge Road unveiled on Monday its new Safe Medication Kiosk – a drop box for unused and unneeded or expired prescription drugs.

Rusty Maney, Walgreen’s regional healthcare advisor, and Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., were on hand to celebrate the unveiling and explain the big picture.

“These types of events for me have an emotional meaning,” Maney said. His wife’s mother was in hospice care and accumulated enough bottles of oxycodone to line several medicine cabinet shelves. Unfortunately, one of those bottles fell into the hands of one of his five children, who took some pills and overdosed.

The new kiosk, he said, is part of Walgreen’s effort to expand its safe medication disposal program. It’s increasing the number of kiosks nationwide from 1,000 to 1,500. There are four Walgreen’s kiosks in West Virginia, with more coming.

Since February 2016, they’ve collected more than 300 tons of medications, Maney said. “We need to make safe medication disposal easier and these kiosks do that.”

The Walgreen’s kiosk is open during pharmacy hours, 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

(David Beard/The Dominion Post)

McKinley is lead sponsor of HR 5628, the Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act. It’s a five-year demonstration program to channel federal funds through the states to enable pharmacies to install and maintain drug disposal kiosks. The bill is in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which he’s a member.

“With 5628 we have all the confidence we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. A Senate version, S 2645, is in Senate Judiciary. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is a cosponsor.

HR 5638 is just one piece of a large-scale effort to address the opioid crisis, McKinley said. The House has passed 57 bills on the topic to date. “We’ve got a long way to go folks, and we’ve got to have a long-term program.”

This is not the first drug disposal kiosk in the area. Boxes are also available at: Morgantown’s Public Safety Building, accessible 24 hours a day, though during midnight shift you may need to press the buzzer at the door to enter the lobby; Star City Hall, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; and Granville City Hall, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

 For those unable to bring drugs to one of the kiosks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers detailed instructions on safe disposal at https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/ensuringsafeuseofmedicine/safedisposalofmedicines/ucm186187.htm.

The FDA says you can mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds, put the mixture in a bag and throw it in the trash.

You can also flush drugs down the toilet. While some believe that this poses an environmental hazard, the FDA says, “FDA believes that the known risk of harm, including death, to humans from accidental exposure to certain medicines, especially potent opioid medicines, far outweighs any potential risk to humans or the environment from flushing these medicines when a take-back option is not readily available.”

Among the 14 prescription medications it recommends be flushed if there is no take-back option are buprenorphine (Suboxone), oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl.

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