Walmart (WMT) says it's giving away a tool to help curtail the opioid epidemic: free packets that turn the addictive painkillers into a useless gel.
The retail giant announced Wednesday that it will provide the packets free with opioid prescriptions filled at its 4,700 U.S. pharmacies.
The small packets, made by DisposeRX, contain a powder that is poured into prescription bottles. When mixed with warm water, the powder turns the pills into a biodegradable gel that can be thrown in the trash. Research has shown that surgery patients often end up with leftover opioid painkillers and store the drugs improperly at home.
"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," said Marybeth Hays, executive vice president of Consumables and Health and Wellness at Walmart U.S., in a statement.
Walmart says the powder also works with other prescription drugs. The company says its pharmacy customers can request a free packet at any time.
The chemicals in the packets are considered safe by the FDA, Walmart said.