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CVS and Walgreens add units to get rid of painkillers, other medicines

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Walgreens started adding drug disposal units in 2016 and now has 600. It’s collected 155 tons of medications since the program began. AmerisourceBergen, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Pfizer and Prime Therapeutics are partnering with Walgreens to add kiosks to another 900 stores.

Stericycle, a company specializing in disposing of regulated substances like pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, removes the drugs and incinerates them. They had initially planned on emptying the kiosks once a month, but they were filling up so quickly they had to clear them once a week or once every other week in some cases, Gates said.

“We’re quite excited by what we’ve done. Obviously our goal with experience is to continue to drive that story up about unused medications in cabinets and how do we prevent abuse,” he said.

CVS Health is in the process of installing 750 kiosks to its stores. It’s already donated more than 800 units to police departments. By June, it will have more than 1,600 in total.

Installing each unit takes time and planning to make sure it complies with regulations, said Tom Davis, CVS Health’s vice president of pharmacy professional services. They must be bolted into the floor so people can’t them pick up, they need to be locked at all times, and when they’re emptied and sent to a disposal company they must comply with the DEA’s protocols, among other requirements, he said.

“(Installing a kiosk) sounds like an easy thing to do, but when you think about all the regulatory complexity, you gotta get it right and do each one at a time,” he said.

Permanent kiosks are still only available at a fraction of pharmacies around the country, but there are other alternatives for people looking to get rid of medications. Police departments, fire stations and some local government buildings offer them.

On April 28, the DEA will sponsor its semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day when people can bring their leftover prescription drugs to police departments, drugstores and other collection sites.

Walmart gives pharmacy customers powder called Dispose Rx that turns solid when mixed into a pill bottle with warm water, making it safe to throw it away. Rite Aid sells envelopes people can use to return their extra medications.

Some medicines are safe to flush down the toilet, according to the Food and Drug Administration. For others, the agency recommends removing them from their original containers and mixing them with something undesirable like cat litter or coffee grounds then putting them in a container like a plastic bag and throwing them away.

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Asia markets: Wall Street, coronavirus, currencies

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Stocks in Australia were set to trade lower at the open following overnight losses on Wall Street.

The SPI futures contract was at 5,754.0, as compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 5,822.60. 

Markets in Japan are closed on Tuesday for a holiday.

In corporate developments, logistics firm ZTO Express is set to price its Hong Kong listing on Tuesday, as it looks to become the latest U.S.-listed Chinese company seeking to debut in the city.

Investor reaction to the overnight drop in stocks stateside will be watched. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 509.72 points, or 1.8%, to close at 27,147.70. The S&P 500 lost 1.2% to finish its trading day at 3,281.06. The Nasdaq Composite closed just 0.1% lower at 10,778.80. 

Monday’s declines on Wall Street marked the first time since February that the S&P 500 posted four straight daily losses. The Dow, meanwhile, had its worst day since Sept. 8.

“In grasping for the facts that fit the market figures, there seems little doubt that amongst them are the averse trends in covid-19 infection rates in several big European countries and too the United States — trends which have become more painfully evident since late last week — and the associated prospect of more draconian social distancing measures (whether self-imposed or mandated),” Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a note.

Attrill’s comments came as analysts warned that European countries are likely to impose more restrictions on public life in the coming days amid a rapid rise in the number of daily coronavirus infections.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 93.656 after earlier surging from levels below 93.3.

The Japanese yen traded at 104.67 per dollar after weakening from levels below 104.4 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7227 following yesterday’s drop from levels above $0.73.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Hong Kong: ZTO Express prices Hong Kong listing

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CDC says it erroneously posted guidance that said coronavirus spreads through air and travels beyond 6 feet

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A sign informing people to stay 6 feet apart stands on Marina Boulevard at Marina Green in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday it erroneously posted guidance saying the coronavirus spreads through airborne particles that can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond 6 feet.

The updated guidance, posted on the CDC’s website on Friday, also recommended that people use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs indoors to prevent the disease from spreading, according to Reuters.

“A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website,” the CDC said Monday. “CDC is currently updating its recommendations regarding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). Once this process has been completed, the update language will be posted.”

Earlier in the day, the World Health Organization said it contacted the CDC about the guidance change. 

The WHO had not seen any “new evidence” on airborne particles and was checking with the CDC to “better understand” the exact nature of the change, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a news conference at the agency’s Geneva headquarters.

The WHO has said Covid-19 primarily spreads through respiratory droplets that pass when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes. Studies have shown that the coronavirus could spread through aerosols in the air, and the WHO has said it is monitoring “emerging evidence” of possible airborne transmission.

The international agency’s position “on this remains the same,” Ryan said, “and we’ve always said going back over months and months about the potential for different kinds of roots of transmission and particularly driven by the context, the proximity, the intensity, the duration and the potential for different forms of transmission.”

The update comes days after the CDC reversed controversial coronavirus testing guidance that said people who were exposed to an infected person but weren’t showing any symptoms did “not necessarily need a test.”

Many public health specialists criticized the CDC’s change in testing guidance in August for appearing to play down the significance of testing people who don’t have symptoms but who might be spreading the virus. 

Studies have suggested the virus can spread through the air. A study published by researchers at the National Institutes of Health earlier this year found that particles of the coronavirus released by talking can remain in the air for eight to 14 minutes. 

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Covid-19 was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours.

In July, the WHO said there is still no “definitive” evidence that indicates the virus is spreading widely by air, although it added that the possibility of airborne transmission in public settings “cannot be ruled out.”

If the coronavirus does primarily spread through the air, masks may prove to be more important than ever. 

Both health agencies recommend that people wear face masks. Studies suggest the masks may serve as a helpful barrier to spreading infection.

–CNBC’s Will Feuer contributed to this report. 

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Microsoft to buy ZeniMax, owner of Fallout, Elder Scrolls franchises

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