Walgreens provides new way to dump opioids any time

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JEFFERSON CITY - Walgreens is giving Missouri a new tool in the fight against opioid abuse, and it's a simple metal bin.

Customers can go to a Walgreens at any time and drop unused prescription pills into medication disposal kiosks, then Walgreens will properly dispose of drugs. Walgreens revealed the bins in Missouri on Tuesday. There are 14 kiosks in the state right now, but Walgreens said it plans to expand. There are already more than 1,000 kiosks across the country.

"What we're going to do is try to see what the response is and learn from how the program is implemented in Missouri, and we'll look for opportunities to expand at a later date," Walgreens spokesperson Phil Caruso said. "But right now, we're going to start with -- I would call it the initial 14 -- and we'll see how things go."

Governor Mike Parson commemorated the open of these kiosks by attending a ceremony at a Walgreens in St. Louis.

The only kiosks in the KOMU 8 viewing area are in Jefferson City and Washington, in Franklin County.

The goal of these kiosks is to keep prescriptions out of the hands of people who might abuse them, and to allow people to dispose of them at any time, instead of waiting until a drug take-back event.

"We're working with a DEA-authorized third party vendor to ensure medications are safely disposed of," Caruso said.

The medicine disposal kiosk at Walgreens started in 2016. The company has taken other measures to help fight the opioid epidemic, like providing an overdose-reversal drug without a prescription.

"Walgreens has collected and safely disposed of more than 400 tons of unwanted medication," Caurso said. "That's the equivalent of a 777 jet. So that tells us there is a demand for this program and it's being put to good use."

Walgreens isn't alone in its efforts. Last winter, Walmart announced it would start offering an opioid destroying powder with its prescriptions, so customers can dispose of unused pills themselves.