In an effort to close off a pathway to opioid addiction that starts in the home medicine cabinet, where family members and friends too often find quick and easy access to unused or forgotten prescription pain killers, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ) is distributing free drug disposal packets to 55,000 members. New Jersey’s largest health insurer will also partner with law enforcement and community organizations to distribute an additional 123,000 packets to help rid New Jersey homes of unused opioids.
Packets of DisposeRx® are being mailed out this week to Horizon BCBSNJ members who recently received an opioid prescription. DisposeRx allows for the safe and effective disposal of opioids by simply adding water and the content of the packet to the medicine bottle. The unused drugs are rendered inert forming a gel-like biodegradable substance safe for disposal with household waste.
“Horizon has taken a comprehensive, three-pronged approach to the battle against the opioid epidemic, investing in education, prevention and treatment,” said David Gambino, vice president and chief pharmacy officer for Horizon BCBSNJ. “Prevention is the best course when it comes to combatting New Jersey’s opioid crisis so we’re arming our members and others who want to help prevent abuse with an easy and convenient way to safely rid their home of unused opioids.”
The SAMSHA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has found that 53 percent of opioids abusers obtain their drugs through a friend or relative, and the source is often the medicine cabinet in the home.
Horizon BCBSNJ is also teaming up with local communities, police departments and the Drug Enforcement Agency‘s New Jersey division to distribute DisposeRx packets where Horizon is present at community events. About 123,000 of these packets will be distributed through community-based channels, such as at Medicare wellness events at libraries and other community centers statewide. The packets will also be available at Horizon Connect Retail Center in Moorestown, and at Sanitas Medical Center locations in Union City, Jersey City and Bellville. In all, the company will distribute more than 200,000 DisposeRx packets.
The DisposeRx packets are part of a growing investment that Horizon is making to address the opioid epidemic. Over the next five years, the company is dedicating a substantial part of its savings from recent federal tax reform to expand its programs and create new initiatives that will improve substance abuse prevention and recovery. With 14 new or enhanced programs to screen and ultimately reduce the number of opioid prescriptions, Horizon BCBSNJ is identifying high-risk prescribers and using predictive modeling to identify members at high risk. With all of these efforts in place, prescriptions for opioids are down by nearly one-third over the last four years.
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