DURHAM, N.C. – Ahead of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day (Take Back Day) on Oct. 27, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is collaborating with Mutual Drug member pharmacies and Inmar distribution services to provide 85 new drop-off facilities across the state for the safe disposal of unused or unwanted prescription medications.
While Take Back Day normally occurs only twice a year, Blue Cross NC’s investment will fund approximately 85 new medication drop-off sites in North Carolina that will be accessible to consumers year-round. Mutual Drug is coordinating with their independent pharmacies across North Carolina to place the Take Back Day drop boxes in locations across the state.
Take Back Day aims to reduce the impacts of the opioid epidemic across the country by encouraging the safe disposal of unused prescription drugs within each state. Properly disposing of unwanted, unused or expired medications helps prevent drug misuse, addiction, environmental contamination and accidental ingestion by children, elderly adults and family pets.
“Unused and expired medications sitting in the medicine cabinet are an easy-to-overlook threat to family and friends, and disposing of these medications can be complicated,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, President and CEO of Blue Cross NC. “These drop-off locations will make it easy for people to properly dispose of unused medications. Everyone can and should play their part in preventing the misuse that contributes to an epidemic.”
The new box locations will allow residents in 75 North Carolina counties to safely dispose of excess medications. By partnering with smaller independent pharmacies for box placement, the drop off locations will reach parts of the state that may not have easy access to medication disposal resources.
“We are honored to work with Blue Cross NC and Mutual Drug to help combat the growing opioid epidemic in our home state,” said David Mounts, Chairman and CEO of
Inmar. “Through our own LifeInCheck Drug Disposal Program, we have collected approximately one ton of unused or expired medications throughout North Carolina, to date, and are looking forward to increasing that number substantially through this collaboration.”
The opioid epidemic has become North Carolina’s largest public health crisis. From 1999 to 2016, the number of drug poisoning deaths in the state has increased by 440 percent. In 2016, opioids were dispensed to North Carolina residents at a rate of more than 65 pills for every man, woman and child. Since 2013, Blue Cross NC’s efforts – which include providing risk screening and education, contacting providers with significantly higher rates of opioids prescribing, and monitoring for patients who “prescription shop” -- have helped lower opioid prescription rates by 16 percent.
Despite progress in terms of prescription rates and screening, there are still hurdles to overcome in the day-to-day handling of medications. Take Back Day is unique in the fact that it gives the average person’s opioid experience a definitive endpoint.
“Most people get their excess medication after major surgeries, like wisdom teeth removal,” explained Mutual Drug’s Gray Stewart, Director of Professional Pharmacy. “If they don’t take all the medication prescribed, it sits around until it expires or someone else finds it. We eliminate that risk by educating the public through our pharmacies about initiatives like Take Back Day.”
Blue Cross NC’s support of Take Back Day is part of ongoing efforts to combat North Carolina’s opioid epidemic. Earlier this year, Blue Cross NC announced a commitment of $10 million and key policy changes to address the opioid epidemic.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities through innovative health care products, insurance, services and information to more than 3.8 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross NC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at bcbsnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.
We use technology, data science and analytics to improve outcomes for pharmaceutical manufacturers, hospitals, pharmacies and the patients they serve. Our analytics, platforms and services create efficiencies to optimize results and to drive profitable growth. Inmar has been a trusted intermediary for over 25 years. We manage billions of dollars of healthcare transactions, applying the highest standards for data and financial controls.
About Mutual Drug:
Mutual Drug is a supportive network of independent pharmacies. Mutual Drug helps ensure that its members are successful through a collaboration of over 500 pharmacies, strong group buying power, transparent pricing, improved access to products and services, legislative advocacy, and a full suite of business support solutions. Mutual Drug is shaping a better future for independent pharmacies through technology and a focused approach to product distribution.
 “Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.” (2018). USA Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved October 2018.
 Opioid Crisis: The Problem. (2017). North Carolina Department of Justice. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
 Rate of Outpatient Opioid Pills Dispensed by County per North Carolina resident. (2016). NC Division of Mental Health, Controlled Substance Reporting System. Retrieved April 24, 2018.