SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Walmart is taking steps to end the war on opioid addiction.
The company announced on Wednesday a new way to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.
“We are aware that there is a national epidemic of opioid use in our country, and Walmart is committed to bringing solutions to the table,” said Erin Hulliberger, a Walmart spokesperson.
Every year, millions of prescription drugs fall into the wrong hands. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 50 percent of people who abuse opioids get them from friends and family.
Now Walmart is providing all customers with Class 2 opioid prescriptions with a packet from DisposeRX.
Inside, a powder to dump into the pill bottle and mix with water. Within 10 minutes, the contents turn into a gel and neutralize the drugs.
“It’s safe, it’s convenient and it’s a responsible way that our patients can get rid of their old medication without ever leaving their home,” Hulliberger said.
Heidi Sanborn is the Executive Director of the California Product Stewardship Council, a nonprofit dedicated to making sure drugs are properly destroyed.
“People just don’t know what to do,” Sanborn said. “They flush them, which gets into our water. They throw them in the trash, which is insecure. We’re very happy to hear that Walmart is doing this. We’re ecstatic. We just want to make sure we have enough options for all the different medications that are out there.”
Sanborn says she’s concerned about whether or not it’s safe for the environment to throw the gel-like mix straight into the trash. Walmart says it is and describes the material as non-toxic, biodegradable and safe if accidentally ingested.
But for people who don’t fill their prescriptions at Walmart, Sanborn recommends finding a drug take-back bin.
Not only will the pills be incinerated, but the bottles will get recycled too.
In Sacramento County, there are about 700 pharmacies, but only 13 take back drugs.