CVS Health Expands California Initiatives to Help Combat Opioid Abuse

A medical disposal unit is set up inside the CVS on Soledad Canyon Road. Courtesy photo | Danielle Korzhenyak

As California cracks down on combating opioid abuse, CVS Health officials announced a local effort they hope will help.

CVS recently added a new medication-disposal unit in Canyon Country, located at 19424 Soledad Canyon Road.

“Through the launch of our in-store safe medication disposal program at CVS Pharmacy locations in California, we aim to help remove unused prescription medications from medicine cabinets where they could be otherwise diverted or abused,” said Tom Davis, R.Ph., vice president of professional services for CVS Health.

“We are also pleased to support the work of four community health centers here in California and their work to promote addiction recovery, which directly aligns with our purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” said a CVS Health press release.

This is just one of the 62 units installed in California as part of CVS Health’s initiative to add 750 units in CVS pharmacies across the country, CVS announced Thursday.

The initiative was started to keep unused opioids out of the wrong hands. The main goal of the initiative is “to help facilitate proper and timely disposal of opioids and other medications that could otherwise be diverted or misused,” according to the CVS Health press release.

The battle with the opioid crisis has taken a turn for the worse, according to Cary Quashen, executive director of behavioral health at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and founder of Action Drug Rehab. Recent Centers for Disease Control data indicate opioid addiction is now the leading cause of death for individuals under 30.

“We see so many more people addicted to opiods. Eighty to ninety percent of people we get who want help is from an opioid addiction. I’ve been screaming for over 10 years that we are going to have an epidemic that is worse than the ’70s and this is it,” Quashen said.  

The safe medication-disposal kiosks will supplement the 15 units CVS Health has previously donated to police departments in California and the 900 units donated nationwide to police departments, collecting over 350,000 pounds of unwanted medication.

Additionally, the CVS Health Foundation is donating $330,000 in grants to four community health centers across California to aid in combating opioid abuse. Their focus is to increase access to opioid addiction treatment and recovery centers.

The work CVS Health is completing builds on existing programs the company operates, including the Pharmacists Teach program, in which CVS pharmacists volunteer to speak at local schools about the danger of abusing prescription drugs. More than 61,000 teens and parents in California and more than 300,000 students across the United States have participated in the program.

“We need to do anything we can, because it’s really crazy and out of hand,” Quashen said. “We are losing too many people.”

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