Walmart is hoping a simple packet could help curb opioid misuse

The company is supplying packets that can help patients properly dispose of their opioid prescriptions if they have any left over.

The retail chain said Wednesday that its pharmacies will offer a free kit that allows patients to safely throw out unused opioid prescription pills at home.

According to the manufacturer, when Dispose-RX is added to a pill bottle with warm water, it separates the medication into a biodegradable gel.

The company, which has 70 locations in New Jersey, announced a plan to introducing a new, free program starting January 17 for people who fill their opioid prescriptions at its pharmacies, Walmart said in a press release.

Walmart pharmacies in Rhode Island and Washington will offer an alternative free disposal solution until third-party testing of DisposeRx has been completed in those states.

Citing data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Walmart said some 65% of opioid abusers get them from unwitting family and friends. Patients who fill Class II opioid prescriptions on an ongoing basis will receive one complimentary packet every six months.

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"The health and safety of our patients is a critical priority; that's why we're taking an active role in fighting our nation's opioid issue - an issue that has affected so many families and communities across America", explained Marybeth Hays, EVP of consumables and health and wellness at Walmart U.S.

This story has been corrected to show that the information about the types of drugs on which the packets can be used came from DisposeRx, not Walmart. The DisposeRx packets will be made available at Sam's Club as well.

The DisposeRx launch comes in addition to Walmart's other efforts to curb opioid misuse. Opioid overdose deaths rose 28% in 2016, to 42,000 men, women and children.

According to Sen. John Boozman R-Ark., "about one-third of medications go unused", which can prove to be risky - especially when children or teens have access to them.

Most recently, CVS joined the fight against opioid abuse by expanding its prescription drug disposal program to 750 of its pharmacies across the country.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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