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Battle to turn the tide against opioid abuse intensifies

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CVS is one of many chains that offer drug take-back facilities

NEW YORK — As the epidemic of opioid abuse continues to escalate in America, corporations and other organizations are ramping up their efforts to fight the problem.

Rite Aid Corp., for instance, recently announced that DisposeRx, a first-of-its-kind opioid disposal solution, is now available at all of its more than 2,500 pharmacies in locations across the United States. DisposeRx packets contain a biodegradable powder that, when mixed with water in a prescription vial, dissolves drugs, forming a viscous gel that may be safely discarded in the trash.

“DisposeRx packets are an innovative and easy-to-use drug disposal solution and, as one of the nation’s leading drug stores, Rite Aid is excited to offer this solution to our patients at no cost,” said Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid’s executive vice president of pharmacy.

“While there’s no single solution to the opioid crisis, practicing safe medication disposal is an important and significant step we can all take. Rite Aid pharmacists, as medication experts and one of the most accessible health care providers, are well positioned to engage with their patients on this important ­topic.”

DisposeRx packets contain a blend of patented and proprietary solidifying materials that provide a safe and permanent solution for the disposal of unwanted, unused or expired medications, including pills, tablets and capsules. When water and the DisposeRx powder are added to drugs in the prescription vial and shaken, the drugs are dissolved and then both chemically and physically sequestered in a biodegradable, viscous gel from which they cannot be extracted. The packet can then be discarded in household trash.

The chainwide availability of DisposeRx is the latest measure being taken by Rite Aid as part of its comprehensive strategy to address the opioid crisis.

Walmart, also stepping up its efforts to battle the epidemic, announced earlier this year a DisposeRx program of its own in all its pharmacies nationwide. And now the company has introduced new policies, programs and tools to address the issue applying to all Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies in the United States and Puerto Rico.

“We are taking action in the fight against the nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of health and wellness and consumables for Walmart U.S. “We are proud to implement these policies and initiatives as we work to create solutions that address this critical issue facing the patients and communities we serve.”

Within the next 60 days, Walmart and Sam’s Club will restrict initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply, with up to a 50 morphine milligram equivalent maximum per day. This policy is in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for opioid use. Where state law for fills on new acute opioid prescriptions is less than seven days, Walmart and Sam’s Club will follow state law. In addition, as of January 1, 2020, Walmart and Sam’s Club will require e-prescriptions for controlled substances.

E-prescriptions have been proven to be less prone to ­errors, they cannot be altered or copied, and they are electronically trackable.

In other e-prescription news, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has applauded the leadership of the Iowa state legislature and Gov. Kim Reynolds for the enactment of an opioid omnibus bill which includes a critical mandate to require electronic prescribing for all drugs in the state effective January 1, 2020.

“Gov. Reynolds and the leadership of the Iowa Senate and of the Iowa House of Representatives have taken decisive action on the opioid abuse epidemic by looking to electronic prescribing to help curb fraud, abuse and waste. The Iowa General Assembly’s Opioid Epidemic Evaluation Study Committee and the Iowa Board of Pharmacy deserve thanks as well for their engagement and leadership,” commented NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson.


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