Walmart offers product to destroy opiate remains, but critics say it’s unnecessary: ​​bidirectional: NPR

On Wednesday, Walmart began distributing a new solution to help customers get rid of leftover opiate prescriptions. But the CDC says, just take them to the toilet.

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Scott Olson / Getty Images

On Wednesday, Walmart began distributing a new solution to help customers get rid of leftover opiate prescriptions. But the CDC says, just throw them into the toilet.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Walmart is the latest national company to join the fight to try to help curb the distressing opiate epidemic in the United States, which now kills more people than bad cancer.

On Wednesday, the chain launched a pharmacy product that says it provides a safe way to get rid of additional prescription opioid medications. It is called DisposeRx and when mixed with warm water converts any form of opioid medication, including powders, pills, tablets, capsules, liquids or patches, into a biodegradable gel that can not be separated or converted back into a usable medicine.

Walmart touted it as the first of its kind in a statement, and said the ingredients are approved by the FDA.

"The health and safety of our patients is a fundamental priority, which is why we are taking an active role in the fight against our nation's opioid problem, a problem that has affected so many families and communities throughout the United States. United, "Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of Consumables and Health and Wellness at Walmart US, said in the statement.

In 2016, more than 42,000 Americans died from an opiate overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl. That's more than any registered year and 40 percent of all overdose deaths involved a prescription.

Walmart explained that patients filling new opioid prescriptions at any of their 4,700 pharmacies will receive a free DisposeRx package that will start immediately, while current customers can request it at any time. Patients with chronic pain medications will be offered packages every six months.

Republican Senator John Boozman of Arkansas praised Walmart for helping to "keep the prescription drugs he did not use in the wrong hands."

"Approximately one third of the drugs sold are not used, all too often, these dangerous narcotics remain unprotected where children, adolescents or visitors can have access," he said in the statement published by Walmart.

A study by the CDC found that Arkansas prescription drugs are so ubiquitous that there are enough pills on the black market that every citizen, nearly 3 million in the state, could have a full bottle, reported Talk Business & Politics

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, agrees that the leftover pills contribute to the spread of addiction, but says products like DisposeRx are unnecessary because the CDC already encourages anyone at the end of a opioid treatment to "throw them down the toilet". No special ingredients needed.

"The problem is that the general public simply does not know that," he said.

"Think about it," he continued, "every time someone who takes an opioid medication urinates or defecates, he goes into the water supply, so that's not the real problem."

Kolodny is also carrying out a Long-term study on the impact of numerous legislative and private efforts led by the company to curb the epidemic. Your conclusion about DisposeRx from Walmart? "It's good that they try but it will have little impact."

The root of the explosion in the addiction crisis, he says, is an excessive prescription by doctors and dentists. Through his research, which is ongoing, Kolodny has discovered that the policies that limit recipes are more effective, such as the one imposed by CVS. In September, the pharmacy chain began limiting opiate painkillers to seven-day supplies for new patients.

But even that does not reach the required, said Kolodny.

A better strategy is the one made by the Vermont Department of Health. The new rules established in April limit the amount of a "milligram equivalent of morphine" in the prescriptions. They establish specific doses of medications containing oxycodone, hydrocodone, and acetaminophen-oxycodone (found in Percocet) that doctors should prescribe.

Kaiser Health News reported that 22 states adopted or tightened their prescription size limits in 2016.

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