The launch of DisposeRx in Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacies is one of several ways the retailers are helping to address the prescription drug abuse problem.
"We are taking action in the fight against the nation's opioid epidemic", said Marybeth Hays, an executive vice president with Walmart U.S.
The change will occur in the next 60 days. Walgreens and some CVS pharmacies offer disposal boxes for unused medications, and Walmart provides patients with packets detailing how to safely dispose of unused opioids at home.
But by 2020, Walmart and Sam's Club will require e-prescriptions for all controlled substances.More news: Kim Summit Likely Set for Singapore in June
Florida and several other states have passed similar measures to limit patients' supply of opioids in an effort to reduce the risk of addiction and misuse.
The Drug Enforcement Administration said this week it saw a record number of unused pills turned over to authorities last month during the semiannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency room visits connected with suspected opioid overdoses rose nearly 30 percent in September from July 2016. The e-prescriptions are deemed to minimize error and prevent prescription frauds.
Plus, Walmart and Sam's Club pharmacists will continue to recommend the anti-overdose drug naloxone, which is available over the counter in some states, to customers who may be at risk of an overdose.
The stores are also providing additional education and training for their pharmacists on opioids and noloxone. Existing pharmacy patients can also request a free DisposeRx packet at any time, including at the upcoming Walmart Wellness Day event on January 20 from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. local time at all Walmart locations nationwide.