This weekend, The Kroger Co. is teaming up with pharmaceutical distributor Cardinal Health Inc. to host drug take-back events nationwide.
Kroger said Monday that the joint medication disposal events with Cardinal Health will be held at more than 100 pharmacies, across its store banners, on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In line with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, the events will offer customers a safe, convenient way to discard expired, unwanted and unused prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Local law enforcement officers will be on-site to help residents dispose of their medications. In addition, Kroger pharmacy staff — and at some locations Cardinal Health employees — will provide participants with educational resources on preventing prescription drug misuse.
"Every day in our stores and pharmacies, in large ways and small, Kroger is committed to being a part of the solution and helping people live healthier lives through partnerships with companies like Cardinal Health and by offering naloxone, the life-saving [overdose] medication at 2,300 of our pharmacy locations," Colleen Lindholz, president of pharmacy at Kroger and of The Little Clinic, said in a statement. "The drug take-back event, which provides a safe and convenient way for our customers to dispose of their unused or expired medications, is just one step of our comprehensive commitment to help the communities Kroger calls home combat the nationwide opioid epidemic."
At the take-back events, Kroger pharmacy staff will also offer customers the option to discard medications with DisposeRx, a drug disposal packet containing a biodegradable powder that enables users to safely throw away medicines at home.
When mixed with warm water, the packet’s nontoxic, cross-linking polymer powder forms a solidifying, biodegradable gel that permanently sequesters pills, tablets, capsules, powders, liquids and patches. Users just combine the packet contents with tap water inside the prescription vial, shake and then toss it into the trash.
Proper disposal of medications is seen as critical to thwarting drug misuse and abuse because it reduces access to unused and expired medicines. For example, about 54% of those who misused prescription drugs got them from a friend or relative, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Only about 11% of unused medication is disposed of correctly, the Geisinger Center for Health Research found.
"Supporting drug take-back events has been a priority for Cardinal Health for many years," said Jim Scott, senior vice president of national markets at Dublin, Ohio-based Cardinal Health. "As part of our ongoing Opioid Action Program, we are excited to build on our existing Generation Rx partnership with Kroger in sponsoring take-back events that will provide a safe, convenient and anonymous disposal method for communities across the country and highlight the importance of using medications safely."
Kroger and Cardinal Health added that the community drug take-back events expand on a multiyear collaboration. In 2017, the companies hosted 18 take-back events in Ohio. Cardinal also targets drug misuse and abuse via Generation Rx, an ongoing education and outreach initiative aimed at teens and young adults, and its Opioid Action Plan, which provides tools to help prevent opioid abuse and support first responders, as well as facilitate safe medication disposal.