Walgreens Partners with Lake County Opioid Initiative

In early 2015, Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim and I visited the Walgreens Corporate Office to discuss the current opioid epidemic and the issue of prescription drug disposal.  Walgreens has taken the lead on both of these issues by authorizing the sale of naloxone without a prescription and by commiting to the placement of 500 drug disposal boxes throughout the United States.  As of today, Walgreens has placed 45 boxes in their Illinois stores and 12 in the suburbs of Chicago (click here for the complete list).  This is a step in the right direction, for public health and for the environment:

  • An estimated 10-33% of prescribed meds go unused
  • 70% of people who abuse prescription meds get them from a friend or family member
  • Accidental opioid overdoses has quadrupled since 1999 and outnumbers heroin and cocaine combined
  • Access to opioids in the home can lead to abuse by teens, and accidental overdoses by children and elderly
  • Improper disposal of pharmaceuticals pollutes our water and our land.
  • Take Back Days aren’t enough: People stockpile prescriptions in their homes for a one day/year event.
  • While people can bring them to police stations, it's an added inconvenience. Under this current model, the cost to dispose of these unwanted pharmaceuticals is borne by the taxpayer, since the collection and destruction has been overseen by government agencies.

I am tremendously grateful to Walgreens for being a leader and a partner in our communities and that Lake County was recognized as an important ally in this initiative. This move makes the disposal of medications — including opioids and other controlled substances — easier and more convenient while helping to reduce the misuse of medications and the rise in overdose deaths.

To learn more, you can access the Daily Herald article here.