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More than a year after Walgreens began collecting unused medications in all of its stores, it has added a Sharps' needle disposal system for customers' used needles.
Sharps recently selected Walgreens to feature the Needle Collection & Disposal System from Sharps Compliance exclusively in its stores. The exclusive relationship with Walgreens will continue through December.
"Customers often ask about what to do with these types of needles, and now our pharmacists have another option to discuss with patients," said Suzanne Hansen, group vice president of pharmacy operations for Walgreens.
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"This gives you a safe way to store them. A lot of patients dispose of needles with the solid-waste trash in their homes. Some take them back to their physicians' offices or hospitals, but both of those places don't want to deal with needle disposal anymore," said Claude Dance, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sharps.
The system also protects family members and others from exposure to the risk of an accidental needle stick.
There are 2 components to the Complete Needle Collection and Disposal System: an optional disposal system using mailers sent through the U.S. Postal Service and proper container systems for patients' needles and syringes.
Instead of being dumped in landfills, the needles are sent to Sharps' treatment facility and are disinfected and treated. Then, the disinfected, treated materials are transformed into a product that is used to manufacture Portland cement.
Currently Walgreens purchases the needle collection systems from Sharps. In the future, Sharps' executives hope that manufacturers of consumer goods and other products will sponsor the units in retail outlets.
"For diabetic patients, any company from Dr. Scholl's to Sweet'N Low could sponsor," Dance said.
For now, Sharps' TakeAway Unused Medication Envelopes in Walgreens retail for $3.99 each and include prepaid postage.