Ultimate-User Medications

Last updated on October 30, 2019

Since 2014, Sharps Compliance has partnered with pharmacies, hospitals and clinics with on-site pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, and others to make approximately 3,000 MedSafe pharmaceutical collection kiosks accessible to ultimate users for the disposal of their home medicines. Those with unused/unwanted medications can – at no cost – bring their home medicines to a MedSafe unit for safe, DEA-complaint disposal. The program has generated an enthusiastic response: as of December 2018, over a million pounds of unused, ultimate-user medications have been deposited into MedSafe receptacles.

Safe pharmaceutical disposal is an important component in the national effort to combat the current opioid crisis of prescription drug abuse and accidental poisonings. We at Sharps Compliance are proud to be part of the effort and congratulate everyone who has worked to make this effort a success. Together, we can continue to help protect communities and the environment from the dangers of improper disposal.

Understanding the Dangers of Improper Disposal of Home Medicines

Many people mistakenly believe that it’s safe to flush unwanted medications or dispose of them in regular household trash. As has been discovered and published, flushing medications can have serious environmental and health consequences if the residue contaminates groundwater and drinking water. Likewise, disposing of medicines in the household trash does not prevent children, animals, or other persons from taking the medication out of the trash, ingesting it, and potentially, resulting in tragic consequences.

However, it can be just as dangerous to store unwanted medications at home. Consumer Reports found that 60% of people who take opioids keep leftover medications in the house. That easy access to powerful painkillers has helped fuel the opioid epidemic. Some states are working to reduce the number of opioids prescribed and dispensed, but that only addresses part of the problem.

These 2016 statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health highlight how easy it is for many abusers to obtain drugs from friends and relatives. Of people who reported abusing opioid prescription painkillers:

  • 4% got them from a physician prescription
  • 4% got them for free from a friend or relative
  • 7% stole them from a friend or relative
  • 9% bought them from a friend or relative

MedSafe offers a safe, convenient disposal solution. The patent-pending MedSafe medication disposal program operates under and complies with the 2014 Disposal of Controlled Substances Final Rule.

Success of Sharps’ Community Partnerships

In 2017, Sharps Compliance partnered with the North Dakota State Board of Pharmacy as part of a statewide education, prevention, and drug diversion/collection effort. Since that time, 126 participating pharmacies in the state have installed MedSafe Medication Disposal kiosks. In just the first year of operation, the program collected more than three tons of unwanted and unused medications.

That success is being replicated across the country. Thousands of MedSafe kiosks placed in communities give households a convenient way to dispose of medicines immediately, instead of waiting for semi-annual DEA Drug TakeBack Day events.

We work closely with state and federal entities, as well as private businesses, to educate the public about the importance of safe pharmaceutical disposal. Each time someone deposits unwanted prescription opioids into a MedSafe receptacle, they’re helping to protect their family and community. We want to thank everyone involved in this effort. We also encourage others not yet active to learn more about how MedSafe ultimate-user medication disposal kiosks can be a frontline defense against opioid abuse in your community.


Dana has a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in geography and has worked in both the clinical and regulatory compliance settings. Her nursing experience includes working in ER, neuro ICU, hospice, and case management. Her regulatory experience includes conducting environmental compliance reviews for federal grant projects and working as an Environmental Investigator with the TCEQ. Dana joined Sharps Compliance in 2018.

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