[Pharmwaste] RE: Small drug disposal devices and the smart sink

Volkman, Jennifer (MPCA) jennifer.volkman at state.mn.us
Mon Oct 22 16:09:17 EDT 2012

Hello Barb and all,
I think you are speaking more generically about devices, not specifically the Smart Sink that was linked in a previous message. But, I was curious about the sink, so I called them.
They do use something that "denatures" the drugs in the container, rendering them "non-recoverable". They are awaiting comment from DEA about whether the device would meet their definition of destruction/non-recoverable. The sales rep said the filled containers would be sent with whatever HW disposal company they used for pharms in general. They would also coordinate reverse distribution for users. (These containers of mixed pharms and denaturing liquid don't meet MN's criteria to qualify for redistribution.) The materials would not be sewered and there is no assumption that the mixture would be non-haz. I don't know if MN would need to license LTC's or others that might use them as HW treatment facilities. I do think there is some value in an option that could be used by facilities that have few, but a somewhat steady stream of CS to dispose that has previously been sewering them--if people are concerned about pilfering. If the end result is that they'll be shipped as a HW, I'm not sure why you'd go through the extra step to destroy them first unless peace of mind or theft was an issue.

The sales rep said that he had a couple of law enforcement agencies that were interested in using them to destroy controlled substances on-site. Perhaps if DEA approved the use, they could end the need for witnessed destruction right at the office, then ship them off as HW pharms vs. controlled substances that require law enforcement escort to a burner...

I also wondered if they recommended them for home use and they do not since the basic cost is $489. I didn't ask the price for replacement containers.

From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us [mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Bickford, Barbara J - DNR (Barb)
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 1:36 PM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: [Pharmwaste] Small drug disposal devices

I'm writing in response to the question about small devices that claim to render drugs unrecoverable.

In Wisconsin, we are telling businesses and institutions which might use these devices, that the facilities themselves probably would not be subject to licensing as being "treatment facilities" if they use them.  It's wise to check with your state regulatory agency on this point.

However, facilities must be very careful about what they put in the devices.  Controlled substances should only be put in them if the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has agreed in writing that this meets their regulations. I've not seen documentation of DEA's blessing for any devices yet.

If a business or institution (i.e., a regulated facility) puts a drug in the device and if that drug that would be considered a hazardous waste (e.g., Coumadin), then the whole device is considered to be a hazardous waste and must be disposed of as a hazardous waste.   Therefore, facilities must "evaluate" each drug for its regulatory status (hazardous or non-hazardous, per RCRA regulations) _before_ putting the drugs in the device. Otherwise, they may end up with a mixed waste that is difficult and expensive to dispose of.

If devices like this are used in homes, the question of putting controlled substances in them remains under the jurisdiction of the DEA.  The device itself is regulated as an exempt waste under RCRA and legally may be sent to a landfill. However, it would be better for the environment for the resident to deliver all controlled substances to DEA-sanctioned collection locations and other drugs to a medication collection offered by DEA or other authority.

Then the question arises, where exactly is the line between "homes" and "businesses and institutions"?   I suggest that nursing homes, assisted living, group homes and others in the gray area contact their state environmental regulatory agency to find out whether they are regulated as "homes" or "businesses and institutions."  In Wisconsin, the line is not based on the type of facility, but on who manages the waste.  Our guidance in the area is posted here:

Barb Bickford, Medical Waste Coordinator
WI Dept. of Natural Resources, Waste & Materials Management program
101 S. Webster St.,  P.O. Box 7921,  Madison, WI   53707-7921
Phone:   608-267-3548                          FAX:  608-267-2768
barbara.bickford at wisconsin.gov<mailto:barbara.bickford at wisconsin.gov> OR DNRmedicalwaste at wisconsin.gov<mailto:DNRmedicalwaste at wisconsin.gov>

Healthcare waste:  http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/HealthWaste/
Wisconsin H2E:  http://wh2e.org
Practice Greenhealth: http://www.practicegreenhealth.org

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