By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 90 people die in a day from misuse of prescription opioids, and more than 1,000 are treated in emergency rooms.
There are multiple paths to tackling this onslaught on our national health, from drug treatment programs, to tighter control of the supply and distribution of opioids, to more effective disposal of opioid waste from hospitals and other health care delivery facilities.
“The disposal of opioid waste alone could become a billion-dollar industry,” according to Mark Macdonell, co-founder of Clear River Enviro (CRE), an i2E portfolio company that is out to revolutionize the disposal of opioid and other pharmaceutical waste.
A major source of opioid waste in hospitals and other health care delivery facilities is the 20 to 50 percent of opioid that remains in a prepackaged vials after the appropriate dose has been administered to a patient via IV or injection.
“The DEA mandates that whatever is unused from the vial will be measured, transferred to a secure collection container, co-signed by a witness, and then stored until it can be picked up and sent to a DEA-certified incinerator to be burned,” Macdonell explains.
With witnesses, signoffs, fingerprint technology and secure collections, the process is extremely cumbersome for medical professionals whose primary mission is patient care not drug control. Additionally, even with comprehensive chain-of-possession requirements and inspections, there are multiple opportunities for opioids to be diverted for illegal use.
CRE’s RxDestruct represents a patented disruptive technology that establishes new best practices for the handling of pharmaceutical waste in the health care industry. RxDestruct equips hospitals and health care delivery facilities to dispose of opioid (and other pharmaceutical) waste at the point of generation, providing a fast, safe and efficient method of handling.
With RxDestruct, all a medical professional must do (with a witness) is dump any unused drugs into the top of a machine sitting on a counter or a shelf in the same secure area where drugs are dispensed. There’s no pickup, no transporting, and no off-site incineration.
“Our system holds the drug waste in a secure tank,” Macdonell said. “We use a patented technology and reagents that are virtually 100 percent effective at breaking up the drug molecules into fragments. Carbon and rusty water are all that is left. It’s safe to dump that down the drain.”
RxDestruct is in third generation beta testing at a 650-bed hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, and an ambulatory surgical center in the Dallas- Fort Worth area. An additional 50 units will be placed in pharmacies and hospitals.
Just think about the impact that this startup company can have on a health crisis that is costing billions of dollars and thousands of lives. That’s the impact of Oklahoma’s innovation economy. That’s why at i2E we do what we do.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.