Walmart offers to help customers destroy unused opioid prescriptions

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Walmart, the third-largest pharmacy in the USA, wants to give people who receive prescriptions that are frequently misused a safe way to get rid of them for free.

Customers filling a new class II opioid prescription at any of Wal-Mart's 4,700 United States pharmacies will now receive a packet of DisposeRx, a powder that - when mixed into a pill bottle with warm water - creates a safe, biodegradable gel, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The company also will offer a packet every six months to patients with a regular opioid prescription. A few months ago, CVS Health, (cvs) the largest dispenser of drug prescriptions in the country ($61 billion worth in 2016) said it would limit the prescription of opioids for some conditions to seven days, a move Walmart has also advocated.

Once the pills have been dissolved, it's relatively hard to extract the opioid as well, DisposeRx CEO John Holaday told reporters on a call.

Walmart is handing out DisposeRx for free at all of its pharmacies.

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"The healthy and safety of our patients is a critical priority", said Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of Consumable and Health and Wellness at Walmart.

The move comes as the US grapples with the scourge of opioid addiction, an affliction that often begins when chronic-pain sufferers fill a prescription at a retail pharmacy chain like Wal-Mart, CVS Health ( CVS ) or Walgreens Boots Alliance ( WBA ). "Walmart is incredibly proud to fund this initiative that provides our patients with an opioid disposal solution they can access nationwide, at no cost".

Wal Mart (WMT) now distributes safety brochures with prescriptions and offers to counsel on safe opioid usage. However, the retailer does not accept the return for disposal of the drugs that it sells. John Boozman, R-Ark., where the company's headquarters is located.

It's a smart idea, one that can prevent unused medications from entering the black market. "Too often, these risky narcotics remain unsecured where children, teens or visitors may have access", Arkansas Senator John Boozman said in a statement.

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