Walmart takes on opioid crisis in free disposal program

Walmart said it will provide customers filling prescriptions for opioids with a packet of powder that will help them dispose of leftover medication in order to help curb misuse and abuse.

The company said patients filling any new class II opioid prescriptions at its pharmacies will receive a free packet of the product - called DisposeRx - when filling a new prescription. Patients with chronic Class II opioid prescriptions will be offered a free packet every six months, the company said.

People filling prescriptions at Sam's Club can also get DisposeRx at their pharmacies.

In order to safely dispose of opioids, patients would add warm water and the DisposeRx powder to their pill bottle, which then forms a biodegradable gel around the pills.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says opioids were involved in over 42,000 deaths in 2016. In October, President Donald Trump declared the problem a national public health emergency.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most people misusing prescription opioids get them from family and friends.

(Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Leslie Adler)