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Riverton Installs New Solution To Fight Opioid Crisis; State Eager To Expand On Success

RIVERTON, Utah — Utah communities desperate for new solutions in the opioid crisis may find help in the months ahead. The city of Riverton recently launched a new program to more efficiently destroy unused medications, and the state is eager to expand on their success.

“We are literally allowing ourselves to poison our own families,” said Rep. Eric Hutchings, R-Kearns, referring to the large volume of opioids and other narcotics sitting in medicine cabinets in our homes. “If we don’t stop the flow of legally-prescribed prescriptions that are being misused by individuals who receive them, we’re going to have a really hard time getting ahead of this opioid thing.”

The solution was Utah product NarcX, a carbon-based solution that dissolves pills on-site, rendering the drugs non-retrievable in a non-toxic and eco-friendly mixture.

“A solution that is we believe part of the solution to the opioid epidemic,” said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs.

Here’s how NarcX works: you dispose of your unused medications in the NarcX kiosk or bottle and walk away. The NarcX carbon-based solution dissolves those pills in a matter of a couple of hours. Every three to six months, the city has to dump the drum of narcotics. But it’s eco-friendly and non-toxic so it can just go to the landfill. The bottle is just a smaller version of the same system.

“This started with Riverton City recognizing there was a problem and stepping up and doing something about it,” said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City.

So, destroying unused opioids and other narcotics immediately after patients are done with the prescription is the safest plan.

“We had a 24-year-old female in my city pass away yesterday,” Staggs said. “We’ve got to do something. This is a huge epidemic.”

During the last two years, 850 people have overdosed on opioids and died in Salt Lake County. Riverton was the first in the country to put six kiosks of NarcX in locations across the community, including one in the Police Department and one in City Hall. 

A NarcX kiosk

Intermountain Healthcare in Riverton also partnered with the city to buy 1,000 bottles of NarcX that can be used anywhere, anytime to destroy medications on site. 

Riverton spent about $6,000 to launch the program with help from Intermountain Healthcare for the cost of the bottles.

“In order for this to be successful, it needs to be very pervasive throughout the entire county and throughout the entire state,” Staggs said.

Hutchings and Thatcher today started working on two bills to pave the way for other communities to use NarcX, a Utah product.  They’re working on grant money and another bill that would prohibit improper disposal of pharmaceuticals, including an education campaign.

“If we can end the ready supply of these opioids and narcotics that are no longer being used for the purpose for which they were prescribed, we just made law enforcement’s day,” Thatcher said.

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