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Walmart Offers Customers a Safe Way to Dispose of Opioids at Home

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On Wednesday, Walmart announced it plans to tackle the opioid epidemic by helping people safely dispose of unused opioids. It’s the first pharmacy chain to offer a drug disposal solution at all of its pharmacies, the big-box retailer said in a statement.

DisposeRx is a small packet that contains ingredients that turn essentially any medication (pill, powder, liquids, etc) into a biodegradable gel that renders them useless.

More than 65 percent of people who abuse opioids have access to them from family or friends, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute of Abuse.

A study in August 2017 found that most opioid prescriptions given after surgery go unused or are leftover, but 90 percent of people did not dispose of the drugs properly and instead held onto them, raising the risk of misuse.

Beginning immediately, anyone who picks up a Class II opioid will receive a free DisposeRx packet and an opioid safety brochure. People who routinely fill opioid prescriptions like those with a chronic illness will receive a new DisposeRx packet every six months. Pharmacy customers can also request a free packet at any time. The packets will also be available at Sam’s Club pharmacies.

Walmart isn’t the first large pharmacy chain to tackle the opioid epidemic. CVS announced last September their pharmacies would begin limiting opioid prescriptions to a 7-day supply for certain acute conditions and prioritize immediate-release formulations before extended-release medications, policies that concerned some in the chronic pain community.

Like Walmart, CVS will also counsel patients about proper opioid use. With its new program, Walmart pharmacists can talk to customers about safe opioid disposal as well as distribute opioid awareness brochures outlining risks and helpful resources. CVS will have onsite opioid disposal services in 750 locations. Walmart will have the DisposeRx available at all 4,700 locations.

Originally published: January 17, 2018
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