Walmart offers kits to turn leftover opioids into useless gel

Opioid Overdoses

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. 

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"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.