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Royal Oak — CVS Pharmacy announced Monday it has completed a rollout of time-delay safes for controlled substances in all of its 318 locations in Michigan in an effort to help deter drug robberies.

Company officials and others said by making it impossible for employees to open drug safes on demand, they believe potential thieves will think twice before attempting to steal highly addictive opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Elected officials, including Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, voiced support for the effort during a press conference at a CVS Pharmacy on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak.

“The opioid epidemic has hit Michigan especially hard and our communities are working to fight this growing problem every day,” said Nessel. “ …to ensure that medications are kept out of the wrong hands and in safes will help do just that.”

Nessel noted in 2017, there were 2,700 fatal drug overdoses across Michigan, 70 percent of them related to opioids.

“There are more Michigan deaths from drug overdoses then from car accidents,” said Nessel, adding that “all hands on deck” are needed to fight the epidemic.

Nessel encouraged any residents faced with drug addiction problems to take advantage of free resources by calling 1-800-622-HELP.

CVS has installed signs in all of its stores alerting the public — and potential thieves — that the time delay function cannot be overridden.

“Pharmacy robberies are a challenging issue for every pharmacy and we are committed to doing all we can to reduce the number of incident in our Michigan stores,” said Betsy Ferguson, CVS senior vice president and deputy counsel.

“We have seen that time-delay safes, combined with other security policies and procedures in place at our stores, can greatly reduce these incidents … these safes will help ensure that our pharmacies remain a safe environment for our patients and colleagues.”

While Ferguson was unable to say how many drug robberies have taken place in Michigan, she said a pilot safe delay program in Indianapolis, instituted after a high volume of thefts, resulted in a 70 percent decline in pharmacy robberies.

Ferguson said CVS’s Pharmacists Teach program has reached out to more than 500,000 students across the country, including 29,000 in Michigan, to talk about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

Nationallty, CVS Pharmacy has collected more than 828,000 pounds of unwanted medications at its in-store collection boxes to help get unwanted and unused prescription drugs off the street and safely dispose of them. That includes 15,000 pounds collected in Michigan.

Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier, who also attended the event, noted that “not a city, town or family has not been impacted by opioid drugs.”

State Rep. Jim Ellison, D-Royal Oak, said dozens of bills have been passed or proposed in Lansing “to fix the problem” of drug misuse and addiction.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

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