BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has begun offering pharmacy patients filling opioid prescriptions a free drug disposal packet containing a biodegradable powder that enables them to safely discard unwanted, unused or expired medication.
Walmart said Wednesday that the packet, from DisposeRx Inc., will now be given to patients filling any new Class II opioid prescription at any of its 4,700 pharmacies nationwide. They will receive the DisposeRx packet and an opioid safety information brochure when picking up their prescription. Patients with chronic Class II opioid prescriptions will be provided a DisposeRx packet at no charge every six months. Pharmacists counseling patients on proper opioid use can also explain how to use DisposeRx.
Current pharmacy patients also can request a free DisposeRx packet at any time, including at the upcoming Walmart Wellness Day event on Jan. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time at all Walmart stores. The packet, too, is being offered free at Sam’s Club pharmacies.
The DisposeRx packet contains a nontoxic, cross-linking polymer powder that, when mixed with warm water, forms a solidifying, biodegradable gel that permanently sequesters pills, tablets, capsules, powders, liquids and patches and can be thrown away in the trash. Users just combine the packet contents with tap water inside the prescription vial and shake.
“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,” Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of consumables and health and wellness at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. “While this issue requires many resources to solve, we are confident this unique, easy-to-use disposal solution, DisposeRx, will make a meaningful impact on the lives of many. Walmart is incredibly proud to fund this initiative that provides our patients with an opioid disposal solution they can access nationwide, at no cost.”
Southern Pines, N.C.-based DisposeRx stresses that improper drug disposal is a major contributor to opioid abuse and misuse and requires a solution to stop the epidemic where it often starts: in the medicine cabinet. The company reports that 70% of opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths begin with unused opioid painkillers in patients’ medicine cabinets, and these opioids may then be diverted to friends and family.
What’s more, government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Drug Enforcement Agency lack regulatory control over drug disposal, according to DisposeRx, which noted that the absence of proper drug disposal fosters misuse, addiction, overdose and environmental pollution.
“The establishment of DisposeRx’s Walmart relationship emphasizes our combined commitment to curbing the cycle of drug overdose, addiction and death that often begins in the medicine cabinet,” explained John Holaday, chairman and chief executive officer of DisposeRx. “DisposeRx is aggressively pursuing our opportunities to educate patients about the enormous need to curb drug overdoses that begin in the home, hospital and hospices, and to provide an easy-to-use and failsafe product for drug disposal. Among the various approaches to drug disposal — including drug take-back programs, flushing, mixing with charcoal or kitty litter — we believe that DisposeRx is the most effective, permanent, convenient and affordable solution.”
More than 65% of people misusing prescription opioids are getting them from family and friends, and personal prescriptions are one of the main sources of nonmedical opioid abuse, according to research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse cited by Walmart. The retailer said DisposeRx provides a simple way for patients to destroy leftover opioids without having to leave home.
“I commend Walmart for taking measures to help curb opioid abuse beginning from leftover medications at home,” stated Sen. John Boozman (R., Ark.). “We all have a role to play to help turn the tide against abuse, and Walmart’s program has the potential to rid its pharmacy patients’ homes of unused prescription opioids that could contribute to misuse or abuse.”