Here at Straight Talk, we’re usually talking about things that drive up your healthcare and health insurance costs. So, it’s nice to be able to share some good news with all of you!

As I wrote about last year, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has been leading the way in promoting prescription drug safety and doing our part to combat the national opioid epidemic, which is particularly acute here in Louisiana.

Recently, Blue Cross implemented a new policy for opioid drugs – commonly prescribed to treat pain – to ensure safer and more effective opioid prescribing in Louisiana. Our goals in this effort are to minimize the number of patients at risk to become chronic opioid users and reduce the amount of opioids in communities across the state.

I am pleased to report that we’ve gotten some updated pharmacy data, which shows that, comparing March 2017 to March 2018, ineffective or unsafe opioid prescriptions are way down, some 24% for our members! Looks like we are well on our way to meeting the goals of our new policy.

Specifically, opioid prescription rates per 1,000 member months dropped from 50 in March 2017 to 39 in March 2018 – meaning more members were able to avoid opioids and get effective treatment with alternative drugs or therapies.

Why is this so important? Check out our video with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and our Senior Medical Director, Dr. Deirdre Barfield, explaining why partnerships among state leaders, law enforcement and healthcare stakeholders are important to ending the epidemic in Louisiana.

Remember, community awareness is also an important part of fighting the opioid epidemic, which is why I’m so proud of our Team Blue volunteers who joined other Baton Rouge Health District partners, local law enforcement and staff from AG Landry’s office last Saturday to host a successful National Prescription Drug Take Back Day event.

The team was at Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters for only four hours, and in that time, they managed to collect unused, expired and leftover prescription drugs from more than 180 people – enough to fill nearly 25 boxes! More importantly, that’s 25 boxes’ worth of drugs that are out of homes and off the streets, preventing them from being stolen, abused or misused.

If you missed Drug Take Back Day, you can still get rid of your leftover drugs because Blue Cross has funded more than 50 permanent drug drop boxes at law enforcement locations across the state, and we are working with AG Landry and local law enforcement to get at least one box in every parish.

If you still have unused, expired or leftover prescription medications you want to get rid of, you can drop them off at drug drop box near you. Turn-in is 24/7 and anonymous; no questions asked. Check for a list of these locations.

Getting potentially unsafe drugs off the street is something we can all get behind!