Easy-to-use product allows for safe disposal of leftover opioids at home

Abuse of unwanted prescription drugs can often lead to life-threatening addictions. However, drug take-back days come along only once in a while.

Now, addiction advocates in Delaware are optimistic about a home-based disposal method.

They gathered Monday at Walmart on Centerville Road for a demonstration of DisposeRx, which will be offered free of charge when someone picks up an opioid prescription at a Walmart pharmacy. DisposeRx also hopes to make it available to other pharmacies.

According to its Chairman and CEO John W. Holaday, the powdered product is added into a vial of unwanted pills and mixed with water. After a vigorous shaking, it forms into a gel.

"It becomes more solid over time, such that it will not leach out and end up in landfills," Holaday said. "The end result is, if you can do it at home in a simple way that's permanent, that's a better solution."

Several people who know the toll addiction can take on a family say the problem often starts when someone abuses medication they find in their medicine cabinet - or in someone else's medicine cabinet.

"Students will take them to parties and pass them out. They throw them into a bowl and have what they call a 'pharm party,'" atTAcK Addiction founding member Don Keister said. "Kids will take them, not really often knowing what they are or what they do. It just leads to so many issues."

Keister's son died of an accidental overdose in 2012. 

Bear resident MaryBeth Cichocki feels that same kind of pain. Her son became addicted to painkilling medications and lost his life in 2015.

She wishes a safe method of getting rid of opioids was available back then.

"I probably would have gotten a hundred packets of them because of the volume of medication my son was being given every month," Cichocki said. "Absolutely it would have saved by son's life. I am confident in that."

"The pioneering initiative from a corporate partner like Walmart is a positive step in the battle against the opioid epidemic," State Representative Helene Keeley, D- 3rd, said after learning how to use DisposeRx. "This is a simple solution to the growing problem of unused prescription pain medication left in the household."

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services said about 47 deaths in 2018 are believed to be linked to addiction. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that opioid-related emergency room visits in Delaware increased by more than 50-percent between July 2016 and September 2017.

"We wanted to do our part to help curb one of the issues contributing to this deadly epidemic - unused prescriptions in our medicine cabinets," Walmart Market Health and Wellness Director Bhavin Patel said. "Providing an easy, free, responsible and convenient way to dispose of unused medicine will make an impact and help prevent misuse."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.