Last updated on May 2, 2022

Across the country, state governments, hospitals, and other authorized collectors are working with industry partners to raise awareness about safe prescription drug disposal and offer convenient disposal options. Sharps Compliance has been a leader in the effort to help communities offer more opportunities for safe and secure prescription drug disposal since 2014.

Stakeholder Concerns About Cost & Compliance Often Limit Participation

In 2014, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued the Final Rule for the Disposal of Controlled Substances. The rule implemented the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which allowed pharmacies,  hospitals, and other entities to modify their registration with the DEA and become authorized collectors of unused/unwanted prescription medications.

Initially, very few qualified entities participated in the voluntary program. A 2017 GAO study found that “about 3 percent of pharmacies and other entities eligible to collect unused prescription drugs for disposal have volunteered to do so.” The report noted that concerns about cost, regulatory compliance, and disposal requirements hampered widespread participation. However, implementing a safe, effective, and compliant disposal program can be both feasible and rewarding with the right waste management partner.

Sharps Compliance offers full-service management of both pharmaceutical and regulated medical wastes. We can help pharmacies, long-term care facilities, and other entities understand proper segregation, containment, and other regulatory standards related to prescription drug disposal within their setting.

Smaller authorized collectors like community pharmacies are particularly concerned about cost. However, there are no surprises with MedSafe collection receptacles. We offer flexible, transparent pricing options that include prepaid return shipping, online tracking, and treatment by incineration, which meets the DEA’s non-retrievable standard to ensure drugs are completely destroyed.

In many cases, qualified entities may qualify for federal/state grants or other assistance when they become authorized collectors.

State & Local Initiatives Help Raise Awareness & Encourage Safe Drug Disposal

Research shows that patient and provider education about controlled substances can help reduce patient misuse and provider oversubscribing of opioids, circumstances directly related to the mismanagement of pharmaceutical waste. State and local governments, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders are launching initiatives to educate the public about the dangers of opioids and the necessity of safe medication disposal practices. Most of these initiatives also encourage and assist communities in creating robust medication take-back programs.

  • In 2017, the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy launched an innovative drug collection/disposal program focused on community pharmacies. The initiative placed MedSafe drug collection receptacles in pharmacies at no cost to the participating locations. Over 140 North Dakota pharmacies currently participate, offering residents a free and convenient option for safe prescription drug disposal.
  • Missouri Board of Pharmacy Rx Cares Program provides approved program participants with a MedSafe receptacle and a dozen DEA/BNDD compliant inner liners at no cost. The Board of Pharmacy covers the destruction costs of the first twelve inner liners.
  • Montana used a federal Partnership for Success grant to purchase 212 MedSafe receptacles to distribute to community pharmacies in the state. Before the grant, there were only 22 MedSafe receptacles “located in the approximately 360 pharmacies in Montana.”
  • In 2015, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Plymouth installed a MedSafe receptacle. It became the second hospital in Massachusetts to offer individuals a way to dispose of personal prescriptions immediately instead of waiting for bi-annual Drug Take Back Day collection events.
  • In 2017, Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare set an aggressive goal to reduce opioid prescribing by 40% at its 22 hospitals and 180 clinics by the end of 2018. Intermountain focused on patient and provider education about the danger of opioids. Its “Use Only As Directed” Web site educates the public about opioids. Ultimate users can search by ZIP code to find MedSafe receptacles located throughout Utah.

Contact our medical and pharmaceutical waste management experts at Sharps Compliance to learn more about how your business can become a pillar of the community with MedSafe.

Wanda Voigt holds a BA in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University and a BBA in Business Management from Texas A&M University. In Fall 2021, Wanda will begin her Master Jurisprudence in Health Law and Policy at Texas A&M University. Wanda has over 20 years of clinical practice in both hospital and private practice practicing in various specialties.

As the Director of Regulatory Compliance, Wanda assists Sharps’ customers in evaluating current federal and state-specific medical and pharmaceutical waste regulations, implementing compliant regulated medical and pharmaceutical waste management programs and processes, and developing training programs for both internal and external customers.

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