Posted on January 18, 2018 by Laura Fuller
The chain says its newest product “Dispose-RX” provides a safe and effective way to get rid of unused opioid medication. When mixed with warm water, DisposeRx is capable of turning any form of opioid drug — including pills, tablets, capsules, powders, liquids or patches — into an inert, biodegradable gel that can’t be converted back into a usable drug.
“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,” says Marybeth Hays, Executive Vice President of Consumables and Health and Wellness at Walmart U.S..
Since 1999, deaths from prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone have more than quadrupled. During that time, sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. nearly doubled, as well. The most recent data estimates that more than 42,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose in 2016. That is more than any year on record. It is estimated that 40 percent of all overdose deaths involved a prescription.
Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. As many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction. In 2014, nearly two million Americans either abused or were dependent on prescription opioid pain relievers.
“70% (of the opioid problem) begins in the medicine cabinet,” says John Holaday, co-founder and CEO of DisposeRx. “If we can curb that we’ll stop an awful lot of this.” Walmart says patients will receive a free DisposeRx packet and opioid safety information brochure whenever they pick up any new Class II opioid prescription at Walmart pharmacies. Patients with longer-term, recurring Class II opioid prescriptions can also receive the packet every six months. Existing pharmacy patients are free to request a packet at any time.
It is clear that while these drugs will continue to increase the likelihood of overdose-related deaths, eliminating synthetic opioids will not solve this nationwide healthcare epidemic. Nearly 20.5 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD), yet only 1 in 10 people with SUD receive treatment. This public health crisis continues to underscore the need for quality care capable of meeting the needs of those afflicted.
Together, physicians, pharmacists, and patients alike can learn to recognize the inherent risks of these highly addictive medications, especially when prescribed for long-term use. For patients with a history of substance use disorders, this includes consulting with an Addiction Medicine physician before starting any medicine you are not familiar with. We must collectively battle the opioid epidemic with the disease of addiction in mind.