Pharmacies take up drug disposal effort Big Pharma has fought

Rite Aid has partnered with Google and now has its drug disposal facility locations searchable on Google Maps in an effort make it easier for consumers to dispose of unused medication. (Rite Aid)

Big Pharma has bitterly fought against being forced to pay for drug recycling, but another part of the industry has taken it up: pharmacies. Now, in a move to make it easier for consumers to dump unused meds, pharmacy chain Rite Aid has partnered with Google to have their recycling stations easily searchable. 

More than 550 medication disposal units across the country nation are now searchable on Google Maps using a computer or mobile device, Rite Aid announced Wednesday. Users can type or say “medication disposal near me,” and the software will show the closest locations.

“We are constantly looking for additional ways to help combat prescription drug abuse and misuse, which is impacting communities across the country,” Rite Aid Chief Operating Officer Bryan Everett said in a statement. 

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Some of the stations are at Rite Aid-owned stores. Rite Aid bought Walgreens in 2018. Many are at law enforcement facilities in the 18 states that have partnered with the Rite Aid Foundation on what it calls the KidCents Safe Medication program. 

While disposal programs have been championed as a way to fight the sale of stolen prescription opioids, many consumers just worry about meds getting into the environment if they simply dispose of them themselves. 

Alameda County, California, fought a legal battle with Big Pharma for years before finally getting is program instituted in 2017. After passing a county ordinance in 2012 requiring drugmakers to pay for a disposal program, industry groups PhRMA, BIO and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association teamed up to sue the county. The case brought by the trade group claimed that the pharma industry was ill-suited to the task of drug disposal.