Local Walmart pharmacies offering powder to help customers dispose of opioids

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Customers getting prescriptions filled at area Walmarts have a new way to help with the state's opioid crisis. Pharmacies at the retail chain are providing free packets of a powder substance, called DisposeRX, which will destroy the potentially dangerous medications.

According to manufacturers of DisposeRX, each two-gram packet contains ingredients that when emptied into a pill bottle with warm water, allows patients to responsibly dispose of leftover medications in their trash.

The Walmart along N. Emerson Avenue in Greenwood started giving the substance to customers on Wednesday. The company said the product is also available at every pharmacy nationwide.

“It’s a brand new company launch to help combat the opioid crisis that’s going on across the United States," said pharmacist Andrea Martin. "It’s more of a way for those people who have surgeries, and have a little leftover pain medication that they don’t want them to fall into the wrong hands."

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, more than 65 percent of people misusing prescription opioids are getting them from family and friends.

“If those medicines sitting in the medicine cabinet aren’t being used, then those abusers are going to have access to them," Martin said. "The idea of the DisposeRX is if you are done taking an opioid prescription, the pain medications, you can environmentally get rid of the medications by dissolving them with this powder in water. Then they are safe to be thrown away at that point.”

Martin said the store has sold similar substances in the past, but they didn't sell well and that product was for a much larger quantity of excess medicine.

Marion County's director of public health, Dr. Virginia Caine, is excited about the product and its potential to help with the state's drug battle.

“This might be a wonderful new tool out there for the public to dispose their medications," said Caine. "I also thought it was a great educational piece. We don’t really want you flushing your opioids, medicines, or narcotics down the drain or water systems unless you have specific directions to do that.”

Caine's department has seen the addictive power opioids have on the community. In December, the department said it was considering declaring a public health emergency due to the drug crisis. There were 275 overdose deaths in Marion County during 2016. The number is expected to be in the hundreds again for 2017.

“Evidence shows we have a significant epidemic with people able to access these unused medications within the home," Caine said. "A lot of times parents may not be aware of it.”

Click here to learn more about Walmart and its connection with the substance.