Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Walmart hopes to combat the U.S. opioid epidemic by offering a free disposal system to help consumers safely dispose of leftover medicine.
The world's largest retailer announced the new disposal system, known as DisposeRx, on Wednesday, with plans to make it available to use for free at all of its 4,700 U.S. pharmacies.
DisposeRx's system will give drug users a small packet containing ingredients they can mix into a pill bottle with warm water to safely dispose of leftover medications in the trash.
In a release, Walmart referenced information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Drug Abuse that shows more than 65 percent of people who misuse prescription opioids acquire them from friends and family.
Existing company policy also provides optional counseling to customers who want advice on safe prescription opioid use.
"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," Marybeth Hays, the executive vice president of Consumables and Health and Wellness at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "While this issue requires many resources to solve, we are confident this unique, easy-to-use disposal solution, DisposeRx, will make a meaningful impact on the lives of many. Walmart is incredibly proud to fund this initiative that provides our patients with an opioid disposal solution they can access nationwide, at no cost."
According to Sen. John Boozman R-Ark., "about one-third of medications go unused," which can prove to be dangerous -- especially when children or teens have access to them.
Walmart's announcement marks the first time one of the nation's largest pharmacies has offered a free way to dispose of opioids at all locations.
CVS has a similar program, but it is only in place at 750 locations in the U.S.