What Do Your Patients Do with Unused Meds?


How one product is making it easier for your patients to safely dispose of their medications.

With the opioid crisis growing worse every year, it’s more important than ever that your patients be safely disposing of their medications, and not just their opioids. But is your pharmacy making it simple and convenient?

One company may have a solution. Stericycle Environmental Solutions, a waste management company, is offering a collection kiosk for pharmacies. The kiosk is fully managed by Stericycle, in what they say is a unique full-service approach. According to Maricha Ellis, Vice President of Marketing and Sales Operations at Stericycle, the kiosk reduces “management workload for the host staff while providing superior tracking and data visibility.”

Stericycle KioskThe kiosk is serviced on a regular schedule by a Stericycle technician, a schedule based on a client’s needs. According to Ellis, unlike event-based collection, which can be sporadic, this system provides ongoing access to a safe-disposal site. The Stericycle website claims that, because of the kiosk’s convenience, it offers the potential for increased store foot traffic and can serve as an educational tool for customers.

The units feature a 22-inch video screen that provide full-motion instructions for hearing-impaired, non-English speakers, or anyone else unable to understand written instructions. The kiosks are designed to meet or exceed DEA requirements, as they are constructed of stainless steel, feature a double-locking mechanism, and can be securely mounted to the wall or floor. Non-controlled drugs and schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substances can be collected.

Related article: Drug take-back: A call for a permanent solution

Pharmacies looking to install a kiosk must first modify their DEA registration to become collectors, which according to Ellis is a “quick and straightforward process that can be completed online in less than 10 minutes.”

A scale in the kiosk measures the amount of material and flashes an indicator light when it is full. If this happens, someone on pharmacy staff can lock the drop drawer so the kiosk does not overflow. 

When the kiosk is emptied, two representatives from the site are present as a technician removes the collected medications and inserts new supplies. The collected medications are tracked via a proprietary tracking application from collection to disposal at a permitted incineration facility. So far, since the launch of their services, Stericycle has collected and destroyed more than 230 tons of consumer medications. Ellis stressed that no information is collected from the consumer due to strict DEA regulations on the inspection or segregation of pharmaceuticals prior to their destruction. Only aggregate weight and volume reports taken from data taken by the tracking application are available for customers.

The pricing for the kiosk varies based on the amount of material collected. According to Ellis, the average annual costs range from $2,000 to $8,000 for larger amounts. 

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