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Attorney General Coffman and Colorado Springs Mayor Suthers Commend Walmart’s New Initiative to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Attorney General Coffman and Mayor Suthers receive hands-on demonstration at local Walmart pharmacy

 

COLORADO SPRINGS- Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers today met with officials from Walmart and DisposeRx to receive a hands-on demonstration of an innovative new initiative to help curb the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic that Walmart is giving its pharmacy patients filling opioid prescriptions.

Walmart recently announced it would carry and distribute the opioid disposal solution, known as DisposeRx, in all of its 4,700 pharmacies nationwide, free of charge.[1] Additionally, pharmacists have been trained to help educate customers on how to safely and effectively use the product.  

DisposeRx is a powder that when mixed with warm water in a pill bottle, creates a gel that can responsibly be thrown out with household trash.

Attorney General Coffman applauded Walmart’s efforts for taking the lead by being the first retail pharmacy in the nation to utilize the program.

“I commend Walmart and DisposeRX for taking a proactive step to help their customers make sure that unused medications do not end up being abused or misused,” said Attorney General Coffman. “We know that this opioid epidemic has created a public health crisis that is impacting our social services, our schools, our child welfare services, our addiction treatment services, and our business communities. Most importantly these overdose deaths are not just numbers, they represent family members and friends who leave behind loved ones who are forever affected by their death. Safely disposing of opioid medications can help prevent Coloradans from becoming addicted to life threatening drugs, and can save lives.”

The new program comes after more than 64,000 individuals in the United States died from a drug overdose in 2016, up from 59,000 deaths in 2015, the largest jump in the nation’s history.

“Opioid abuse is an epidemic that plagues the nation, and unfortunately, we have seen its ugly impacts here in El Paso County,” said Mayor Suthers. “In 2016, El Paso County led the state with 141 fatal drug overdoses. To the extent that we can implement measures that will reduce prescription opioid abuse, and change this trend, we must do so. I applaud Walmart and DisposeRx for providing a tool in this effort.”

According to data from the Colorado Health Institute, in 2016 Colorado recorded 912 drug overdose deaths, more than in any previous year. The state has set records for drug overdose fatalities in 13 of the past 15 years. In addition, the newest data suggests that trend may be continuing, with drug overdose deaths climbing to a record high of 959 in 2017.[2]

“We wanted to do our part to help curb one of the issues contributing to this deadly epidemic – unused prescriptions in our medicine cabinets,” said Michele Pagel, Walmart Regional Health and Wellness Director for Colorado. “Providing an easy, free, responsible and convenient way to dispose of unused medicine will make an impact and help prevent misuse.”

As part of the program, patients filling Class II opioid prescriptions at Walmart pharmacies now receive a DisposeRx packet and an opioid safety brochure. Additionally, patients can request a free DisposeRx packet at any time.

“The way out of the current crisis will take innovative thinking, combined with the collaboration of local businesses, community leaders and local and state governments,” said DisposeRx Co-founder and CFO Dennis Wiggins. “We all have a role to play, whether through public policy, or community partnerships, but as long as we are working together in a systematic way, we will ensure the next generation will be a better place.”

***** Photos from the event can be found on the right side of this web page****

 

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CONTACT:

Annie Skinner

Director of Communications and Public Information Officer

Colorado Attorney General’s Office

720-508-6553

annie.skinner@coag.gov