Expanding Access to Safe and Convenient Drug Disposal

While recent datai shows that prescription opioid volume declined nationwide in 2017, the misuse and abuse of opioid medicines remain a public health crisis. More than half of individuals misusing prescription opioids report that they obtained them from a friend or relativeii, making the disposal of unused medicines an important strategy in combatting the epidemic. 

CVS Health has long been working to increase access to safe disposal options through our Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program, providing disposal units to local law enforcement agencies across the nation. In September 2017, we announced the expansion of our disposal efforts by committing to installing 750 in-store disposal units at CVS Pharmacy locations this year.

Additionally, twice a year, CVS Pharmacy locations host local law enforcement for take back events in support of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. On Saturday, April 28, more than 100 CVS Pharmacy locations will join other community sites across the U.S. to host law enforcement officials for take-back events where the public can safely dispose of unwanted medication.

Promoting Safe Disposal in the Communities We Serve

Since announcing the expansion of our drug disposal program, CVS Health has installed more than 500 units at CVS Pharmacy locations in multiple states. These units add to the nearly 900 units we’ve donated to local law enforcement. To date, nearly 350,000 pounds, or more than 158 metric tons of unwanted medication have been collected at more than 1,400 disposal kiosks.

To locate a Take Back Day disposal site in your community, visit the DEA or find permanent disposal units near you through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Drug Disposal Locator tool.

Leveraging a Comprehensive, Enterprise-Wide Approach

Safe disposal is one important element of our enterprise-wide approach to address opioid abuse and mitigate the impact of the opioid crisis on communities across the nation.

Other efforts include:

  • Through our Pharmacists Teach program, our pharmacists have educated more than 300,000 students across the country about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs, including opioids, and we recently expanded the reach of this program to parents, as well.

  • We are also working to expand access to naloxone (also known by the brand name, Narcan), which is a lifesaving drug that blocks opioid receptor sites to reverse the effects of an overdose. Naloxone is available at all CVS Pharmacy locations, and at CVS Pharmacy locations in 46 states, it is available to patients without an individual prescription.

  • In addition, CVS Caremark, has enhanced its opioid utilization management strategies, which have been shown to have a number of positive results, including a decrease in the number of patients new to opioid therapy receiving more than a seven-day supply. For all CVS Caremark mail or retail pharmacy prescriptions, our pharmacists prospectively monitor use before dispensing, and then retrospectively monitor for fraud, provider shopping, potential misuse or abuse.

For more information about our efforts in the fight against opioid abuse, visit Our Commitment to Fight Opioid Abuse and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.


i IQVIA: “Medicine Use and Spending in the U.S.” Released April 2018: https://www.iqvia.com/institute/reports/medicine-use-and-spending-in-the-us-review-of-2017-outlook-to-2022

ii Annals of Internal Medicine: “Prescription Opioid Use, Misuse, and Use Disorders in U.S. Adults: 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health” Released September 2017

Naloxone availability across the United States


CVS Pharmacy patients in 48 states now have access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug, naloxone.

Follow our commitment to drug abuse prevention as we increase access to the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug.