Maine DEP, Industry & Public Health Leaders Make Point About Safe Sharps Disposal With New Education Campaign

September 7, 2012

CONTACT:
Samantha DePoy-Warren, Maine DEP Director of Communications & Education samantha.depoy-warren@maine.gov / 287-5842 (office) or 592-0427 (cell)

-Governor LePage joins the Maine Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner and industry and public health partners to announce an awareness campaign that will deliver 40,000 brochures and 3,000 needle clipping devices to Mainers who use sharps-

AUGUSTA – The tens of thousands of Mainers who use medical sharps at home to control conditions like diabetes will better understand their safe containment and disposal options thanks to an awareness campaign launched today by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

In front of the pharmacy counter at an Augusta Rite Aid, Governor Paul LePage and DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho announced the department would be distributing 40,000 educational brochures, largely through pharmacies like Rite Aid –Maine’s largest pharmacy chain with 79 stores– and Hannaford as well as diabetes educators, veterans groups and MaineCare.

Others injecting remarks of support at the kick-off event included Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Sheila Pinette, the Maine Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Tom Saviello and Rep. Jim Hamper, and Rite Aid Regional Pharmacy Vice President Rob Mullins.

Developed by DEP with printing assistance from BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) –a leading global medical technology company– the brochure teaches home sharps users how to safely dispose of their used needles in their household trash, which is legal in Maine if the proper precautions are taken first to secure and label the puncture-proof container like a laundry detergent bottle and red home sharps buckets or needle clipping devices for sale at pharmacies.

The brochure also reinforces to sharp users they should never toss loose, used sharps in the trash or toilet because it puts themselves, their families, janitorial and solid waste staff, and the general public at risk for accidental and painful needle sticks that can lead to infection, tetanus and transmission of diseases.

Beyond the brochures, BD and Rite Aid have partnered to donate 3,000 BD Safe-Clip™ devices, a convenient clipping and sharps storage tool that retails at pharmacies for around $6 and holds up to 1500 needle tips before it can be secured with tape and disposed of with household waste.

Given how frequently sharps users visit their pharmacy for medication and supplies and that pharmacists are respected as credible conduits of information by their customers, DEP has partnered with Rite Aid to hand out 2,000 of the complimentary clipping devices as part of a larger conversation Rite Aid pharmacists and wellness ambassadors will be having with sharps users on safe containment and disposal throughout the month of September.

DEP will distribute the other 1,000 BD Safe-Clip™ devices donated to Maine’s education effort as well as 100 home sharps containers given by Waste Management, through its four offices and at upcoming events where the department will have a presence focused on safe sharps disposal, including the Common Ground Fair and an annual statewide conference on diabetes education next month.

The clipping devices can also be requested by Maine residents through DEP’s new safe sharps Web site at http://www.maine.gov/dep/sharps where visitors will finds information on proper containment and disposal as well as an instructional video featuring the DEP Commissioner explaining different disposal resources –both homemade and store-bought– that was filmed in the Blaine House kitchen.

DEP has also received an industry donation to purchase print advertisements in selected publications and will be distributing a 60-second public service announcement voiced by Commissioner Aho to the state’s radio stations.

“Every month, DEP gets dozens of calls from home sharps users questioning how to dispose of their used sharps safely. While the callers’ circumstances are different –from an elderly man needing daily insulin injections to a young couple overcoming infertility through hormone shots– their care and concern for doing the right thing is consistent,” said Commissioner Aho. “Thanks to the leadership of DEP and our partners, Mainers will now know that while the management of medical conditions like diabetes can be overwhelming at times, the safe disposal of the sharps used at home to treat them doesn’t have to be. Instead, by disposing of used sharps in the proper container, users will keep themselves and their loved ones safe, while also protecting public health and Maine’s environment.”

The State’s Health Director, Dr. Pinette, who is also an internist said, “One of the biggest challenges faced by patients that require injectable medications and self-blood testing at home is the safe disposal of their used needles and lancets. Maine has a large population of these patients. This is certainly a public health issue that warrants the education, assistance and awareness on proper safe disposal of sharps DEP’s campaign is delivering.”

The Maine educational initiative expands on one implemented last year in New Hampshire by BD and Rite Aid.

“BD is committed to assisting patients in their efforts to safely dispose of sharps waste generated outside of healthcare facilities and has developed cost-effective solutions that help to minimize the risk of needlestick injuries at home and in the community,” said Karl Schumann of BD. “Surveys have demonstrated that patients who are responsible for self-administered care want to be responsible and properly contain and dispose of sharps waste, but often are unaware of or lack access to a convenient means to do so. The partnership among DEP, Rite Aid and BD is a critical step in educating Maine residents about the sharps disposal options that are available to them.”

Rite Aid’s Mullins agreed, saying “As the largest pharmacy chain in Maine, Rite Aid pharmacists play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of their customers and communities, and that includes proper disposal of medical sharps. We’re proud to partner with Governor LePage and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on this educational initiative and encourage Mainers to visit their local Rite Aid pharmacy today to pick up a brochure and to learn more about proper medical sharps disposal.”

For more information about safe sharp containment and disposal or to request a free BD Safe-Clip™ device while supplies last, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep/sharps

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