By offering DisposeRX, the company is furthering its commitment to combat the nation’s epidemic by eliminating leftover medication which could pose a risk of poisonings, overdoses and even death.
"Patient education is an important part of our mission, and pharmacists are on the front lines when it comes to preventing the misuse of opioids," Mark Panzer, senior vice president of Pharmacy Health and Wellness of Albertsons Companies, said in a statement. "DisposeRx makes at-home medication disposal for patients or their caregivers easy and convenient."
Albertsons Companies declined to comment.
In the 1990s, the medical community was reassured by pharmaceutical companies that patients who were prescribed opioids for pain relief would not become addicted. Because of this reassurance, healthcare providers began prescribing the painkiller at greater rates which lead to its widespread misuse, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. However, over-prescriptions led to abuse of prescription pain medications and a rise in illegal heroin use. The epidemic of opioid addiction was declared a public health emergency by the federal government in 2017.
DisposeRX will be available at pharmacy counters in 34 states and the District of Colombia for $1.20 per packet. The pharmacies offering the service include: Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen and Carrs.
DisposeRX packets contain a proprietary powder that is activated by water. Patients are instructed to pour water into their medication vials that contain the leftover pills before adding the DisposeRX powder.
"Effective, eco-friendly home disposal of leftover opioids and other medications is a health and safety goal that we share with our customers."
"In less than a minute, patients can prevent their leftover opioids from being diverted in their communities, prevent accidental poisonings in the home, and avoid polluting the water supply," said Mark Panzer, senior vice president of Pharmacy Health and Wellness of Albertsons Companies.
Once the powder is added, Albertsons Cos. says patients should replace the cap of the vial and shake for 30 seconds in order to make the pills unusable and inaccessible. Patients will then be able to discard the vial safely, according to the company's announcement.
The DisposeRX gel is non-toxic and non-hazardous, according to the company who cited independent environmental laboratory studies.
As it stands, more than 1,700 Albertsons pharmacies have pharmacists trained to administer naloxone, which is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. In addition, 4,500 of its pharmacists are trained to counsel patients on the benefits, availability and eligibility of naloxone therapy.