More than one million pounds of unwanted medication collected: Walgreens, leading health care organizations reach milestone with safe medication disposal program

Program now offering more than 1,300 safe medication disposal kiosks. Time delay safes expanded to more than 5,900 pharmacies to securely store controlled substances

April 23, 2019
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreens today announced updates on its comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The company’s first of its kind safe medication disposal program has collected and safely disposed of more than 1.2 million pounds of unwanted prescriptions, including controlled substances and other medications, reaching a significant milestone in only three years since the effort began.

“This is a true testament to how our customers and patients have responded to the need for convenient access to medication disposal options in their community,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens senior vice president of pharmacy and health care. “We are proud to be the leader in making ‘drug take back day’ available every day, just as we are grateful to the organizations across the health care community who have joined us to address the opioid epidemic.”

Walgreens continues to work with leading health care organizations AmerisourceBergen, Pfizer and Prime Therapeutics to expand its safe medication disposal kiosks across the country. Safe medication disposal kiosks collect unwanted prescriptions, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications year-round at no cost to customers.

Finding one of the more than 1,300 safe medication disposal kiosks – available in 46 states and Washington, DC – has never been easier. Through a collaboration with Google, Americans can quickly and easily find the nearest Walgreens with a safe medication disposal kiosk by searching online for “drug drop off near me” or “medication disposal near me.”

“As a supply chain partner, AmerisourceBergen is committed to supporting comprehensive solutions that help mitigate the impact of the opioid crisis on our communities,” said George Rafferty, President of Corporate Partnerships, AmerisourceBergen. “Safe storage and disposal of unused medications is a vital part of addressing prescription drugs misuse. This milestone represents how collaboration between all parties across health care can drive great progress, and we are proud to be part of this initiative.”

“We are proud to be part of an effort to help reduce harm from intentional misuse of or accidental exposure to unwanted medicines. The impressive results after three years are proof-positive that much more can and will be accomplished as the program continues to expand,” said Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer at Pfizer.

“Prime continues to promote the safe medication disposal program as an effective way to reduce misuse of controlled substances,” said Jonathan Gavras, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Prime Therapeutics. “Prime is also the first pharmacy benefit manager to work upstream – using predictive modeling – to identify individuals who may be at increased probability of receiving high dose opioids to help avoid overprescribing in the first place. Getting ahead of the epidemic is critical to truly combating this national issue and one that can save lives.”

As part of its continuing effort to combat drug abuse, Walgreens will again participate in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day held on April 27 where select Walgreens stores throughout the country will serve as a collection point for law enforcement to collect unwanted, unused or expired medications for safe disposal.

To complement its existing safe medication disposal kiosk program, Walgreens has committed to providing a year-round safe drug disposal option in all of its pharmacies at no cost to customers. By the end of 2019, all Walgreens pharmacies that do not offer a safe medication disposal kiosk will offer a take home safe medication disposal kit available upon patient request at the pharmacy counter.

Both programs make the disposal of medications — including opioids and other controlled substances — easier and more convenient.

Expanding Time Delay Safes to Further Prevent Diversion

Walgreens has also expanded its use of high security safes with time delay locking capabilities in more than 5,900 of its pharmacies in 41 states and Washington D.C., as part of its effort to curb the misuse of opioids and other medications.

The new and upgraded safes are designed to prevent diversion of controlled substances by averting the accessibility of narcotic medications by unauthorized individuals and have replaced earlier versions of the technology previously in use in select pharmacies.

The safes are constructed of heavy steel and feature time delay locking capabilities that, when activated, remain locked for several minutes. This prevents the immediate availability of the items to secure controlled substances, including opioids, frequently targeted in robberies and thefts. Ample signage throughout the store informs the public that time delay locked safes are in use.

High security safes with time delay capability are in use in pharmacies across the following states:

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York**, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

**Installation in New York expected to be complete in May.

The company plans to continue to expand the use of the high security safes to all of its remaining pharmacies in the continental U.S. by end of 2019.

Walgreens also stocks naloxone in all of its pharmacies and is able to dispense the medication without requiring a prescription in 48 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

To learn more of Walgreens efforts visit

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