Sharps Compliance Corp. (Houston), which completed a successful recapitalization in December, is raising its profile among manufacturers who are being compelled to pay more attention to syringes and related sharps that are used in the home. Although at least seven states already have regulations on their books that prohibit disposal of sharps in household trash, only a small fraction of consumers try to return the devices, creating potential hazards for sanitation workers and others. A little-publicized law, S. 486, came into force in California last October; it will require manufacturers to file “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) information with the state and to the public by July 1, 2010. (The law does not, however, require manufacturers to fund a returns-processing system.)
“Having a compliance program is important, but if that’s the only justification for engaging us, we haven’t explained our capabilities well,” asserts Claude Dance, SVP at Sharps. He says that by engaging with patients and providers, the sharps returns can become a form of monitoring patient compliance; if no sharps show up in the company’s tracking systems, then that’s an occasion to check back with the patient.
credit: Sharps Compliance
Along comes the postman
The company’s service is called the Sharps Disposal By Mail System; consumers receive a pre-posted container (photo) in which to place the waste, and the container is delivered by the postal system to its treatment facility in Carthage, TX, which has capacity for 34 tons/d of waste. Individual sharps can be tracked from the consumer to the company.
“This is a billion-dollar market; we have few competitors, and we’re only just scratching the surface of the need,” Burton Kunik, CEO, told investors during the recent recapitalization, which brought nearly $40 million into the company and its leading stockholders. The company says it has contracts with six biopharma companies to manage sharps returns, and has won several state and federal contracts to do the same for various home-health markets.
Sharps Compliance is also competing in the larger (and well-established) medical waste business from clinics, dental offices and other healthcare providers, although it is sidestepping the market for hospitals. “We serve customers who don’t need an 18-wheeler rolling into their parking lot,” says Dance. Most recently, it has started up a service for receiving unused pharmaceuticals from households, RxTakeAway—another environmental and safety issue hovering on the periphery of pharmaceutical marketing. PC