• Rising opioid overdose deaths show drug abuse and misuse are ongoing problems
• Blue Cross recognizes pharmacists’ crucial role in medication safety
• Louisianians can drop off unused and expired medications at Drug Take Back Day event Oct. 29
BATON ROUGE, La – Both national and Louisiana data show that opioid-related overdose deaths were increasing even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the past two years have made the situation worse. In Louisiana, nearly 1,300 people died of opioid overdoses during 2021, a rate 37% higher than the national average.
That’s one reason why Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana joins health care organizations during National Pharmacy Week (Oct. 16-22) to raise awareness about prescription drug safety and options families have to safely get rid of their unused or expired medications.
National Pharmacy Week
To recognize the key roles pharmacists play in health care and promoting the safe use of prescription medications, the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists designated Oct. 16-22 as National Pharmacy Week. Blue Cross employs a dedicated team of 12 clinical pharmacists, plus pharmaceutical analysts and other staff members.
Blue Cross’ pharmacy staff provide and manage pharmacy benefits that support safe, effective and cost-conscious medication use to treat members’ health problems. Blue Cross is honored to acknowledge the valuable services of all pharmacists who help Louisiana patients—including its insured members—make the best use of their medicines.
Blue Cross pharmacists are part of the insurer’s in-house clinical team, which also includes physicians, nurses and dietitians. Members who have a long-term health condition or a serious illness or injury can sign up for health coaching from Blue Cross’ clinical team. It does not cost anything to work with a health coach. Go to BCBSLA.com/Stronger to learn more about Blue Cross Care Management programs or sign up to work with a health coach.
Drug Take Back Day, Oct. 29
We know that drug misuse and abuse often starts in the home medicine cabinet. Studies show that teenagers often get high for the first time on prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Younger children, the elderly and even pets can get very sick if they accidentally swallow medicines not meant for them. Overall, adverse drug events cause more than 1 million ER visits each year—so it’s best to clear out those old prescription drugs.
On Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Blue Cross is joining local law enforcement agencies and health care organizations to host the Fall 2022 Drug Take Back Day. Everyone in the area is invited to the Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) Headquarters, 9000 Airline Highway, on Oct. 29 to drive through and drop off medications.
“People know that illegal drugs are dangerous, but the pills and medications we have at home can be just as dangerous if they’re misused,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross manager of Special Investigations. “The safest thing to do is to get rid of any drug you’re no longer using. This is an easy, socially distanced way to clean out those medicine cabinets and remove risks from your home.”
Law enforcement and clinical personnel will safely dispose of all drugs collected. For similar opportunities outside of the Baton Rouge area, visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back Day website.
At the spring 2022 Drug Take Back Day in April, Blue Cross and its partners collected 1,000 pounds of medications in a single day, getting millions of individual opioid drug units off the streets, Cowart said. See more about the spring event results in this video (1:00).
Year-round Safe Drug Disposal
While the official Drug Take Back Day events in April and October are important to raise awareness, Louisianians have a way to get rid of medication safely year-round, through a partnership among Blue Cross, the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators and law enforcement offices throughout the state. Through this partnership, more than 70 secure drug drop boxes are available in parishes all over Louisiana.
See bcbsla.com/safedrugdrop for a map of locations. The boxes are securely installed, typically housed within law enforcement agencies and available 24/7. All turn-ins are anonymous; no questions will be asked.
Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. You can connect with Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA for regular updates. Blue Cross posts often on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.