Rite Aid innovates in fight against opioid epidemic

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Rite Aid innovates in fight against opioid epidemic

By Gina Acosta - 05/21/2018
The company is making DisposeRx available at all of Rite Aid’s more than 2,500 pharmacies across the United States.

Rite Aid is rolling out a first-of-its-kind opioid disposal solution to all of its stores.

The company is making DisposeRx available at all of Rite Aid’s more than 2,500 pharmacies across the United States.

DisposeRx packets contain a biodegradable powder that, when mixed with water in the prescription vial, dissolves drugs, forming a viscous gel which may be safely discarded in the trash.

“DisposeRx packets are an innovative and easy-to-use drug disposal solution and as one of the nation’s leading drugstores, Rite Aid is excited to offer this solution to our patients at no cost,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid executive vice president of pharmacy. “While there’s no single solution to the opioid crisis, practicing safe medication disposal is an important and significant step we can all take. Rite Aid pharmacists, as medication experts and one of the most accessible healthcare providers, are well-positioned to engage with their patients on this important topic.”

DisposeRx packets contain a blend of patented and proprietary solidifying materials that provide a safe and permanent solution for the disposal of unwanted, unused or expired medications, including pills, tablets and capsules. When water and the DisposeRx powder are added to drugs in the prescription vial and shaken, the drugs are dissolved and then both chemically and physically sequestered in a biodegradable, viscous gel from which they cannot be extracted. The packet can then be discarded in household trash.

Rite Aid will provide DisposeRx packets to patients with new opioid prescriptions and patients with chronic opioid prescriptions will be offered a packet every six months. Rite Aid pharmacists will provide counseling on proper use of the DisposeRx packet. In addition, all patients with opioid prescriptions will receive educational information on opioid use, safe storage, disposal and proper use of naloxone, and all patients with new opioid prescriptions will receive required counseling on their prescription from Rite Aid pharmacists.

The chainwide availability of DisposeRx is the latest measure being taken by Rite Aid as part of its comprehensive strategy to address opioid and other drug abuse and misuse in the country. Additional elements of Rite Aid’s existing program include:

  • Making naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, available without a prescription at all of the more than 2,500 Rite Aid pharmacies nationwide.
  • Supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for prescribing opioids, including limiting acute opioid prescriptions to a seven day supply, limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid and requiring the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended release opioids are dispensed.
  • On-going education and training of Rite Aid pharmacists, including risk factors for opioid abuse, how to identify symptoms of an overdose and what to do in the event of an overdose, an overview of the various naloxone therapies available and proper administration of each and recommendations for follow-up care.
  • Participation in prescription drug monitoring programs including a “red flag” process for pharmacists to regularly review prescriptions for patients not known by the pharmacy or where there may be concerns or suspicions of misuse.
  • The addition of resources on drug safety and disposal on riteaid.com. Visitors can search for a disposal site in their community, learn how to properly dispose of medication at home, access resources provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and find information on treatment for drug abuse and addiction.

Rite Aid’s pharmacy benefits management company, EnvisionRxOptions, currently utilizes a variety of customized opioid management solutions. Last week, its pharmacy benefit manager, EnvisionRx, announced enhancements to its comprehensive opioid and pain management program, EnvisionCare Pain Management. Available immediately, the program, includes pre-emptive prescription strategies, such as limiting first-time fills to seven days, prior authorizations on certain medications, and shortened windows to refill prescriptions. This comprehensive program aligns with the healthcare company’s overall pain management strategy, as well as the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition to the efforts taken by the company, the Rite Aid Foundation is also addressing the issue of drug abuse and misuse as part of its commitment to creating safe and healthy environments for children and teens.

The Rite Aid Foundation’s KidCents program recently announced a three-year, $1.125 million commitment to EverFi, the nation's leading technology innovator, to bring the Prescription Drug Safety program to high schools in markets served by Rite Aid. The program uses an evidence-based, public health approach to empower high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to make safe and healthy decisions about prescription drugs.

The Foundation also continues to expand its KidCents Safe Medication Disposal Program. Launched in September 2017, the program provides law enforcement agencies in communities served by Rite Aid with free medication disposal units for individuals to safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications. As of this month, more than 165 law enforcement agencies across the country participate in the KidCents Safe Medication Disposal Program, with nearly 270 units available in 18 states.