Keeping communities healthy has never been more important, and neighborhood clinics, hospitals, retail pharmacies, and other community-based healthcare organizations are often at the forefront of this work. As they fulfill medication orders, provide vaccinations, and facilitate other public health initiatives, these organizations are in the unique position of helping people handle a variety of day-to-day health challenges.
For example, people with chronic conditions that use injectable medications as part of treatment may turn to their local pharmacy or clinic for convenient ways to dispose of the needles or syringes they use to self-administer medication. By having a safe and user-friendly way to dispose of sharps, these patients can avoid tossing needles and syringes in the regular trash or storing them in a repurposed plastic bottle or jug —options that present significant safety and environmental risks.
Similarly, an individual who received pain medication after surgery may turn to their local pharmacy or community health organization for a safe and secure way of getting rid of leftover doses. Especially as people become more aware of the devastating community impacts of the escalating opioid crisis and the key role that prescription painkillers play in fueling the epidemic, they may be even more committed to looking for safe and anonymous drug disposal options.
Given the increasing awareness of the ecological impact of improper medical waste disposal, community members may also be keen to visit organizations that are cognizant of the potential environmental risks associated with this type of waste. Flushing or “sewering” pharmaceutical waste can have a significant impact on the surrounding environment. Moreover, they may prefer to frequent organizations that are committed to mitigating these risks and that offer safe and effective disposal solutions.
Staying Compliant While Protecting the Community
While pharmacies and healthcare organizations want to support their customers’ and patients’ needs, staying in compliance is still paramount. For example, only DEA registrants with an approved drug take back program can accept controlled medications from individuals and must do so via a secure drug take back kiosk. Allowing people to leave behind leftover consumer medications without a proper solution in place can present a major risk.
At Stericycle, we help community health organizations, including neighborhood clinics, hospitals, and retail pharmacies, better serve the public. Our Safe Community Solutions portfolio offers a range of products designed to make it easy to throw away used sharps and unused drugs. Three key offerings within the portfolio include:
- SafeDrop™ Sharps Mail Back Containers. Available in a variety of sizes, these containers can accommodate different volumes of sharps waste. Pharmacies can give them to patients to dispose of injectables at home. Community-based healthcare organizations can also opt to install sharps containers where patients may need to self-inject while away from home. SafeDrop™ options include a secure stainless-steel cabinet with a sharps container suitable for restrooms and other public spaces. The mail back kits include everything needed to properly collect and safely dispose of sharps through the mail, and they are compliant with Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Transportation (DOT) and United States Postal Service (USPS) requirements. Sharps containers come with step-by-step instructions; a barcoded return shipping container; and pre-addressed postage-paid return shipping labels. Serialized tracking documents help community health organizations and consumers keep track of the waste and obtain proof of destruction to ensure safe sharps disposal.
- MedDrop™ Medication Collection Kiosks. Customers may also appreciate the convenience and anonymity of returning unused or expired medications to the same place where they received them. By having a DEA-compliant medication collection kiosk, community pharmacies and other DEA registrants can simplify private and secure unused or expired medication disposal. The solution includes notification technology to alert staff when the kiosk is full, mitigating the danger of overflow.
- Seal&Send™ Consumer Medication Mail Back Envelopes. These offer a safe, convenient, and trackable way to dispose of unused or expired medication at home, keeping prescription drugs away from the wrong hands and out of the environment. Consumers can use them to package and mail their unwanted or expired medications to Stericycle, and the entire process is secure, anonymous, and prepaid. Once the medications are received, they are destroyed via medical waste incineration, thereby removing the drugs from the home and preventing them from entering waterways. These envelopes are especially helpful for populations who can’t come to a facility to drop off their unused or expired medications. This may include more homebound populations, such as rural, disabled, elderly, and low-income groups. Seal&Send envelopes can be distributed by any organization interested in helping constituents send back unused medications safely. Unlike kiosks, there is no Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration required to distribute these envelopes.
When retail pharmacies, neighborhood clinics, hospitals, and other community organizations use our Safe Community Solutions, they clearly demonstrate a commitment to proper medical waste disposal. This also shows patients their dedication to protecting their community’s health and well-being in a safe, responsible, and sustainable way. Learn more about how we can help you meet patient medical waste needs while preserving the environment.