December 18, 2017

Luján Urges New Mexico Law Enforcement to Apply for Medication Drop-off Boxes to Combat Opioid Abuse

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) this week sent a letter to the 43 law enforcement agencies in northern New Mexico (sheriff’s offices and police departments) urging them to apply for grants from CVS Health’s Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, a community donation program through which local police departments can apply to receive a drug collection unit (often referred to as drop-off boxes) to help their communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances.

In his letter, Lujan writes:

“I think we can all agree that New Mexico has lost too many lives to opioid and heroin abuse. That’s why I have been working in Washington to find tangible and meaningful ways to address this problem. Drop-off boxes are one good way to for local residents to reduce the number of prescription drugs that are either outdated or no longer needed. According to the DEA’s October 2017 report, 53.7% of pain relievers obtained for misuse among those 12 or older came from friends or relatives, whether for free, purchased, or taken without asking. Safe medication receptacles allow people to safely and conveniently dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired prescriptions drugs, including controlled substances and over-the-counter medications.

I’ve become aware of a great program that could help your community. Through its Medication Disposal for Safer Communities Program, CVS Health is providing grants for local communities to procure drop-off boxes for safe medication disposal. As of September 21, 2017, CVS had donated 800 units to local police departments in 43 states, enabling the collection and safe disposal of more than 100 metric tons of unwanted medication over two years. However, New Mexico has not yet participated in this grant program. I would like to see this change, so I am encouraging law enforcement agencies throughout northern New Mexico to apply for these grants.”

The letters also provide more details to help local law enforcement officials apply for the grants.

Luján noted that drug stores and pharmacies are not allowed to take back certain drugs, such as prescription pain relievers and stimulants, because they are controlled substances. He said placing unused prescriptions in a designated drop box keeps medications out of our water supply and out of the hands of people who retrieve them from the trash to sell on the street or use themselves.

“Medication drop-boxes have proven to be effective in states where they have been used, and there is no reason that New Mexico should not take advantage of this program,” said Luján. “I am pleased that CVS Health is providing resources and is partnering with local police departments in this effort. This is a great example of a public-private partnership that will really make a difference in people’s lives.