Category Archives: Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

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State Department will Crack Down on Opioid Import

Much of the efforts to fight the opioid crisis are directed to provide resources, support and education for opioid users or demographics at risk for becoming users (like teenagers.) The Department of State is putting in the effort to address one of the core issues of the opioid epidemic.

A critical piece to stopping opioid abuse is preventing illicit opioids from being available in the first place.

As prescribing opioids becomes a more discerning process, opioid addicts may first turn to alternate sources for the drug before seeking treatment for the addiciton itself. The U.S. Department of State is aiming to stop illicit opioids that are produced overseas from being trafficked into America.

The number of overdose cases that involved synthetic opioids (mostly fentanyl) increased by nearly 640% between 2012 and 2016. In 2016 alone, over 42,000 Americans overdosed on synthetic opioids.

Two milligrams of fentanyl can potentially be lethal.

Most of the fentanyl in the US is sourced from overseas, mostly from China. The majority of heroin in the US comes from Mexico.

These drugs enter the US in a variety of ways and routes. Some are crossing the border overland. Some are shipped in through online orders, slipping through the mail system.

 The State Departments’s INL Bureau is leading U.S. efforts to partner with foreign governments in an effort to reduce illicit drugs and precursor chemicals for cooking the drugs from entering the US.

The INL Bureau is developing a strategy to disrupt the synthetic drug supply chain, in all its new and improved forms, which currently pose a challenge to traditional counternarcotics approaches.

There are new trends in the way the drugs are moved that fostered an increase in heroin use. There have also been many instances of heroin (the natural opioid) being laced with synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), without the user’s knowledge. Fentanyl and other forms of synthetic opioids can be fifty to one hundred times stronger than heroin.

There has to be a new plan that can handle drugs that are produced in secret labs, then bought and sold online, maybe with bitcoin or other virtual currencies that can’t be traced in a traditional manner. Drugs are shipped globally directly to the buyer in small packages that are hard to track and hard to detect. What used to be a drug-trafficking network has turned frequently into a  micro-trafficking network.

The INL Bureau is creating a number of new initiatives to keep up with the dynamic opioid threat in a better fashion. These include:

*Expanding the capacity to globally share and pick up advance electronic data about international mail parcels headed for the United States.

*More support for early warning and global information sharing systems

*Expanding technical assistance for the fine people who develop new ways to detect illicit substances and are working on forensics and cyber investigation

*Spreading education and U.S. expertise with foreign jurisdictions regarding the prevention, treatment ,and recovery programs for drug users.

This will help decrease the demand for the drugs in foreign jurisdictions as well.

Everyone is going to have to work together to meet the challenges posed by the entry of illicit opioids into the United States, including foreign governments, law enforcement agencies, and even the private sector. The State Department is working on advancing cooperation so that the flow of opioids can be stemmed and more lives can be saved.

We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California


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Use the Deterra Pouch to Safely Dispose of Opioids.

The Deterra Drug Deactivation System is a simple, convenient, and cost-effective way to dispose of unused or expired drugs at home.

At-home drug disposal with the patented Deterra® Drug Deactivation System is the simplest and most effective way to keep drugs out of our lakes, rivers streams and drinking water.

It’s also a cost-effective and simple way to keep drugs away from children and other household members.

Every day, 2,500 kids begin abusing a prescription medication. One-third of people aged 12 and over began using drugs for the first time by using a prescription drug for non-medical purposes.

The patented Deterra® System is powered by proprietary MAT12® Molecular Adsorption Technology.

In a scientifically proven, simple 3-step process, the Deterra pouch can render drugs inert, preventing their misuse.

As a bonus, the Deterra patented technology protects the environment from the effects of non-inert drugs that can still have active compounds that leech into the ground or water.

It’s a simple pouch. Each patented Deterra pouch contains a water-soluble inner pod that contains a unique form of activated carbon Activated Carbon has been found to effectively bind to a wide variety of drugs and poisons with a few notable exceptions (e.g. iron, lithium, and potassium).

You put the unwanted pills, liquids or patches in the pouch and add warm water, which dissolves the inner pod and releases the activated carbon.

The pills, patches, or liquids are absorbed by the carbon. You seal the pouch and throw it into your regular household garbage can. The pills, liquids or patches are inert and non-retrievable.

The Deterra pouch is made of environmentally sound materials. The plastic pouch and zipper will degrade through the use of organic additives that will be consumed in landfills by microbes typically found there. The end result will be a release of water and carbon dioxide into the environment. There will be very little organic biomass left behind.

The Deterra pouch will deactivate any organic medications including opioids.

However, it will not adsorb metals such as Iron or lithium, which are contained in a small number of medications.

If your medication has specific disposal instructions, please follow the directions as given.

Deterra is available in multiple sizes and recommended capacity is listed on each pouch or container.

Frequently Asked Questions about Deterra Pouches.

A product demonstration is available on Youtube. Deterra also has a facebook page for updates and helpful articles about their products.

You can purchase Deterra Drug Deactivation System pouches on Amazon.

Drug distributor AmerisourceBergen‘s runs a charity that gives resources for drug disposal  to communitie sthat apply for them. The products they donate include DisposeRx packets and Deterra bags. So far, the foundation has donated 55,000 of these products.

Pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts started sending Deterra Pouches to members who have opioid prescriptions so they can discard any leftovers.

We will probably be seeing more innovative solutions for the opioid crisis in the near future and will continue to report as new information comes up.


We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California









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Walgreens and CVS Install Drug Take Back Kiosks.

The United States is in the middle of an opioid epidemic.

Every day, 134 people die of opiate-related overdoses.

So many people are overdosing from heroin and synthetic opioids that the U.S. life expectancy shortened two years in a row. In the first advisory form a Surgeon General since 2005, the Surgeon General urges more people to carry naloxone, an opioid antidote.

The Federal government’s research shows that a large driver of the epidemic is perscription drug abuse. The majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from friends and family, often coming straight out of the medicine cabinet.

Proper disposal of unused or expired prescription drugs is an effective way to improve the opioid crisis.

Some people are not able to get to the DEA’s drug take back locations.

CVS and Walgreens are implementing another way to help customers dispose of their leftover prescription drugs.

Up until 2014, pharmacies weren’t allowed to take back prescriptions. People could only dispose of drugs in police departments- and for obvious reasons, not everyone was comfortable with that.

In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration issued new regulations due to the growing opioid problem that expanded the ways to safely return and dispose of prescription drugs.

In 2016, Walgreens began adding drug disposal kiosks in its chain stores.

Walgreens now has 600 drug disposal kiosks and has collected more than 270 tons of medications so far. It is partnering with AmerisourceBergen, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Pfizer and Prime Therapeutics to add kiosks to another 900 locations.

The kiosks for drug returns and disposal look kind of like a mail box.

Consumers simply drop the unwanted medication into the slot and the drugs get picked up by a medical waste company as the kiosk fills up.

Rick Gates, Walgreens‘ senior vice president of pharmacy operations, who was involved in the kiosk idea since its inception, says that initially the medical waste company planned on emptying the kiosks once a month, but they were filling up so quickly they had to clear them once a week or once every other week.

CVS Health is in the process of installing 750 kiosks in various chain stores. It’s already donated more than 800 units to police departments.

So far, CVS has collected nearly 158 metric tons of medications from drug take back kiosks.

It sounds simple to install a kiosk, but complying with drug disposal regulations is complicated. Each unit takes time and planning to make sure it is up to regulation standard. Some of the requirements are that the kiosk be bolted to the floor (so nobody can just make off with it). The kiosk has to be locked at all times to prevent abuse of the drugs dropped off in it, and the medical waste disposal company has to be up to the DEA’s protocols as well.

Drug disposal kiosks in pharmacies are not yet available everywhere.

There are other companies working on other options for Household Waste Disposal, besides for the good work being done by the Walgreen’s, CVS, the DEA’s National perscription drug take back day and police stations and fire houses. For example, Google put out a locator tool for drug take back locations that works by zip code. We will keep reporting about various household waste disposal options that will be offered by Walgreens, CVS, and other companies all working hard to come up with practical solutions for consumers.

We will continue to add updates about the opioid crisis and new solutions. It is time that we all did our little part to help save lives and reduce opioid addiction.


We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

a sign declaring the national prescription drug take back day

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Is This Saturday, Oct. 27th of 2018!

This Saturday, Oct. 27th of 2018, the DEA has organized a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day throughout the entire Country. This is one way of helping to deal with the opioid crisis that has been declared a national crisis recently.

MedWaste Management will provide continued coverage of take back event as well as other efforts being made to help with our opioid crisis.

The DEA and Google both provide locators to find your nearest prescription drug take back locations.

Check out The DEA and Google pages below. They contain tools and more info on the ever growing efforts to help people properly dispose of their unused prescription drugs. This is certainly part of the bigger plan to help end the opioid crisis.

DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

Google’s Prescription Drug Take Back Location Tool

As President Trump signed legislation providing resources to help end our opioid crisis, representatives of companies pledging to help stood behind.

You can watch footage of the President with others discussing our opioid crisis and about the things that our Country is doing to stop it, including prescription drug take back events, and more responsible doctor prescribing.

Behind him stood representatives of companies pledging to help with the crisis. Representatives from Google, Walgreens and CVS were there, among others, promoting tools to help dispose of prescription drugs safely and securely. (22.00 minutes into the video)

We are MedWaste Management – California’s medical waste disposal experts!

Established in 2008, MedWaste Management brings great benefit to the healthcare industry and the general public alike. We publish this blog to to spread useful and practical information to help people stay safe, smart and healthy!

Call us with any questions or to start service at (866) 254-5105. We are always happy to speak!

Check out our services and other great resources in the links below.

Medical Waste Disposal Services 

MedWaste’s Blog Index

Medical Waste Regulations

MedWaste’s Product Store 

Home Generated Medical Waste Drop-Off Points In California

Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal and Management

Essential Tips for Proper Drug Management and Disposal Procedures

A number of agencies are directly concerned with the management and disposal of pharmaceutical products in medical facilities. This includes the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, DEA, EPA and the US Food and Drug Administration. Each agency has established guidelines that help to manage pharmaceutical waste disposal that you should be made aware of.

Following these tips should help in navigating through the various rules and regulations regarding drug disposal:

  • Know which federal and state regulations apply to your facility. California regulations are stricter than most federal, so you will want to work closely with a medical waste disposal company that is licensed in the state. They will keep you up to speed on which regulations you need to be paying attention to.
  • Standardize your procedures to meet all government agency requirements pertaining to pharmaceutical waste disposal. This will help in protecting your hospital or medical office from any liability.
  • In order to better protect the community, make sure that you and your staff are aware of any drugs in your facility that are considered a controlled substance. Make sure that these are stored in a secure location that is not accessible by any unauthorized personnel.
  • The EPA has a vested interest in keeping certain drugs from entering the drinking water supply. Stay current on the list of these drugs and make sure that when disposed of, your facility is using separate containers that will be handled exclusively by a properly licensed medical waste disposal company.
  • If your medical facility deals in high quantities of certain drugs, consult with a medical waste disposal company about their proper disposal.
  • Keep careful records and dispose of expired drugs appropriately. An expired pharmaceutical can still be dangerous, both to the environment and your community. Make records of expiration dates and dispose of unusable drugs immediately in accordance with the regulations.
  • Even spilled or contaminated medications need to be disposed of with care. Make sure that all of your employees are trained to know how to effectively clean a liquid medication spill or dispose of tablets that have been contaminated.
  • Prepared medications that are not used in their entirety should be treated as a pharmaceutical and disposed of in the same way as other medicines and drugs. This includes any left over IV solutions or partially injected medications in a syringe.
  • Warfarin, nicotine, arsenic trioxide and physostigmine are drugs that the EPA has deemed require special attention, down to their packaging. If your facility dispenses any of these pharmaceuticals make sure that you and all staff members know the implications.

Pharmaceutical waste disposal in a medical setting is a major concern for all. Avoid problems with any number of government agencies by understanding the procedures your facility needs to follow, and partnering with a responsible medical waste disposal firm who can assist in making sure that you are complying with the myriad of regulations.

Medical Waste Disposal for Clinics

Medical Waste Disposal for Clinics

Do Your Clinic Workers Know What Does Not Go In the Red Bag?

When discussing medical waste disposal for clinics, a lot of emphasis is put on the red bags, and what can go inside. These seem like the ideal solution for all the medical waste that a clinic generates daily, yet there are certain items that they should not hold. Make sure that your employees are just as knowledgeable about what stays out of the red bag as they are about what needs to go inside.

Sharps Waste

Clinic workers know that needles and syringes belong in their little red boxes after use, but can overlook other sharps. Sharps medical waste is defined as being any object that has been contaminated with a pathogen or that may become contaminated with a pathogen through handling. It is also capable of penetrating or cutting skin or packing material… like a red bag. In addition to needles, sharps can include broken glass, scalpels, slides, capillary tubes and broken plastic. All of these must first go inside of a rigid medical waste container before they can be placed inside of the red bag.

Pharmaceutical Drug Waste

Drugs that meet the criteria for being a hazardous waste need to be separated from your clinic’s red bag medical waste. The best practice is to have hazardous pharmaceuticals incinerated at a state approved medical waste disposal facility. Train your staff to learn which drugs are deemed hazardous and set aside separate bins for their disposal.

Universal Garbage

It is a waste of resources to allow for everyday garbage and recyclable materials to be carried out of a clinic in red bags. This includes food scraps, packaging material, light bulbs and paper. Initiate a recycling program for non-contaminated plastics, glass and metals, and dispose of the rest with your regular garbage pick up.

Chemotherapy Equipment

While trace chemotherapy waste may go into a red bag, it must be marked appropriately for incineration. Trace chemotherapy waste is defined as having less than 3% of the original contents by weight. Empty drug vials, syringes, IV bags and tubing used for chemotherapy will all need to be separately sorted and bagged inside the clinic.

Bulk Liquids

Small quantities of liquids in stoppered vials can be placed inside of red bags, but bulk fluids may not unless they have been properly solidified first. Even then, your clinic will have to verify that the liquid is viable for red bag waste disposal. Liquid medical waste of any type should always be secured in containers specially designed to reduce the risk of leakage.

A mistake made in some clinics is the assumption that the red bags are the catch all for all of your waste. This can be a dangerous practice as well as a waste of resources. School clinic employees thoroughly on the use of red bags to ensure that yours are being used properly, and in compliance with the state and federal regulations.

Chemotherapy Waste Disposal and Management

Chemotherapy Waste Disposal and Management

Guidelines for Managing Chemotherapy Waste

Chemotherapy waste disposal includes a myriad of products and supplies involved in the administration of these life saving drugs. This includes their packaging, and the items used to administer them. Also included could be gowns, gloves and sheets if they were exposed to the drug during administration.

Safe handling of chemotherapy waste is crucial for the safety of health workers and patients. Chemotherapy waste is categorized as a hazardous waste because of the chemical properties of the specialized medications. Included in the list of hazardous chemotherapy drugs are arsenic trioxide, daunomycin, melphalan, uracil mustard and more. If your facility is directly involved in providing chemotherapy to patients, there is a good chance that at least one of these hazardous drugs is being used regularly.

Any and all waste that has been contaminated through the course of providing chemotherapy will be considered hazardous waste, and must be disposed of in a very specific manner. A medical waste disposal company should be able to provide your facility with the knowledge needed and products required for the safe disposal of chemotherapy related waste.

Disposal of Unused, Expired, or Discontinued Chemotherapy Drugs

There is a cancer drug repository program which allows a facility to donate chemotherapy drugs that they no longer need. The accepted drugs must be expired for a period of longer than six months and be donated inside of their original packaging that has never been opened. You could also return those drugs to their manufacturer if the container is not leaking and they have not been partially used.

Chemotherapy drugs that do not meet the criteria of other of these categories is categorized as hazardous medical waste and will have to be disposed of professionally. Containers used for its storage should be separate from regular medical waste. They must be rigid and puncture proof plastic containers clearly labeled as trace chemotherapy and incinerate only before being stored with other medical facility trash.

Soft materials that have been contaminated with chemotherapy drugs can be placed in biohazard bags, so long as they are tear resistant and meet 165 gram resistance to breakage. Sharps used to administer chemotherapy drugs will also have their own separate containers which must be marked for incineration as well.

Chemotherapy waste is to be incinerated only once it leaves your facility in the proper biohazard bags. It is extremely important that you properly label all containers holding chemotherapy waste so that it is not mistaken for regular hospital waste and disposed of incorrectly. Doing so could create a serious health threat to the local community.

Knowing, understanding, and following the procedures for chemotherapy waste disposal will ensure that it makes its way out of your facility safely, and disposed of properly. Stay up to date on the procedures and provide appropriate education to members of your staff to help in protecting them and the surrounding community.

How often should I schedule pick up for my medical waste disposal?

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As a matter of fact, there aren’t any Federal infectious medical waste disposal regulations at this time. This issue was left for each State to decide what their regulations will be.

OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogen Standard does not address this issue either.

In California, the storage times are different for biohazardous waste disposal and sharps disposal.

A facility that generates less than 20 pounds of biohazardous waste per month may store it for 30 days.”

That means pickup for a small medical waste generator should be scheduled for about once a month.

The waste may be stored for up to 90 days if kept at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Good storage habits may allow a less frequent pickup schedule.

Good storage habits would mean storing the medical waste containers in a place that is easily cleaned, not permeable (in case of spills) and made of durable materials that would provide protection from water, rain and wind so the containers remain dependably intact. Good storage would keep the containers in a place with limited access, preferably in a place where only trained employees can enter, so that the chance of damage, leakage or spills is minimal.

Good storage would be a place where the floor is not carpeted, has no open seams, and if there are floor drains, they must discharge to a sanitary sewer disposal system. The area should be kept clean and well-maintained, be in good repair, and if there are biohazardous waste containers in there, the international biohazard symbol needs to be posted at the entry.

Once a medical waste disposal box is filled, it needs to be packaged. Then, it should be picked up within 30 days. The countdown begins once the box is packaged.

However, sharps disposal containers have a different time frame. They can remain in place until they are ready to be changed, which is just slightly before the level reaches the “full” line. So, if you are a generator of mainly sharps disposal, like a tattoo parlor, the frequency of the medical waste pick-up would depend on the frequency of your sharps disposal containers reaching the full lines.

Hospitals and Nursing Homes are under other State regulations that require biohazard and regular trash to be removed every day or sooner, if needed. This is to protect patients and visitors, who are also at risk of exposure, especially little children, who are curious and may try to check out any unfamiliar things in their environment. Other people at risk for contamination and infection are support service workers. Cleaning personnel and laundry workers are the first people exposed to medical waste that is improperly disposed of or left around.

(Again, the sharps disposal containers are not included in the daily removal requirement.)

If you’re a small medical waste disposal generator, and you’re still not sure how often to schedule pick-up for your medical waste, here are some indicators:

To determine how frequently your facility needs to schedule pickup by a medical waste disposal company, you should weigh the amount of biohazardous waste (sharps not included) that your business generates in a month, and call to consult with our OSHA-trained experts.

You’ll know if your medical waste has been lying around for too long. One indicator that it’s beyond time to schedule a pickup is odor. Odors can indicate improper storage of your medical waste disposal (like a hot, moist boiler room), or be indicative of the type of waste you’re disposing of, but it’s a pretty reliable yardstick for the frequency of your pickup.

Don’t wait until it becomes that clear, though. Contact us for help to determine how often you should be scheduling pickups before the situation gets smelly.