Marybeth Cichocki’s son Matt was a victim of the opioid epidemic. He died from an overdose in 2015. And like thousands of other victims, Matt’s addiction started in the medicine cabinet.
“Most parents are scared to death that their child will try heroin, but have the misguided notion that because the drug is prescribed, it is safe. I was one of those parents,” Cichocki said. “Matt never touched heroin.”
Since Matt’s death in January 2015, Cichocki has worked to warn other parents about the danger of leftover opioids in the home. Since 2000, 75 percent of those who abuse opioids reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug, according to research cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
To fight the easy accessibility of opioids, Walmart stores will distribute a product called DisposeRx to every customer who is prescribed opioids. DisposeRx is a powdery substance that can be poured into a medicine container along with water. That combination creates a gel-like substance that renders the drugs unusable, said John Holaday, DisposeRx founder and CEO.
“We wanted to find a simple solution, and that’s what DisposeRx provides, an at-home way of getting drugs out of the medicine cabinet,” Holaday said. “Once [the process] is completed, it forms a gel from which the drugs cannot be extracted.”
Said Cichocki: “Until now, there was no way to safely discard leftover opioid medication. I would take [my son’s] pills. I would dissolve them in water. I would flush them down the toilet. I did everything wrong, because this product was not available to us.”
Walmart will provide packets of DisposeRx to customers free of charge. “If patients feel like they have medications lying around in their medicine cabinets, we welcome them to come back to us, talk to us, and we will hand them out additional packets,” Walmart Health and Wellness Market Director Bhavin Patel said.
Holaday demonstrated the product Monday morning during a press conference at the Walmart on Centerville Road near Wilmington.
State Rep. Helene Keeley, D- Wilmington South, took part in the demonstration. “This is just something that’s so ingenious … we hope even smaller pharmacies up and down the state will recognize the value of this and hopefully institute Walmart’s policy as well,” Keeley said.
All 4,700 Walmart stores nationwide will make free DisposeRx packets available to customers.