Pharma Reverse Distributor Improves Materials Handling with Triumvirate Environmental

The Challenge

RXFlorida-based Rx Return Services LLC is a premier pharmaceutical reverse distribution company that operates throughout the country. It focuses on getting its customers (including pharmacies, clinics, and incarceration facilities) the best reimbursement dollars possible for their expired returnable drugs. 

Rx Return Services also offers advanced safe destruction services for unusable pharmaceutical products. Federally licensed for its operations, Rx Return Services works closely with regulatory bodies, such as the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the National Board of Pharmacy. 

There are strict safety requirements involved. For instance, there are certain types of hazardous materials that cannot be combined, even prior to destruction. As regulations governing these substances are updated frequently, compliance maintenance is a challenge. Also, the segregation and disposal of unusable pharmaceuticals demands an especially elevated level of care and scrutiny. 

The operation must always conform to DEA oversight and security protocols. For instance, the DEA requires the removal of an expired drug or controlled substance from the Rx Return Services site within 30 days. The destruction of these substances, at an approved disposal facility, needs the attestation of a trained and approved witness, as well as very precise accounting and tracking.

Handlers must eliminate every drug they transport, down to the individual pill. And the management of these drugs requires the strictest security to prevent shrinkage (the discrepancy between the drugs’ accounting records and the actual inventory). Shrinkage usually occurs because of an accounting error—or theft, which risks the reintroduction of the drugs to the public. In fact, any safe or vault that holds pharmaceuticals on-site at Rx Return Services requires DEA inspection and approval (to ensure materials are correctly stored and accounted for). 

Initially, Rx Return Services outsourced the handling of hazardous and non-hazardous waste to several vendors. The company often used its own personnel to dispose of the controlled substances in a third-party end disposal facility. Overall, these disconnected processes caused inefficiencies. Rx Return Services staff members faced challenges when meeting the various guidelines, which made it very frustrating to plan and execute the disposal of the pharmaceuticals. 

RX Return Services’ leadership decided the company needed a more comprehensive approach to the day-to-day management of these operations. Ultimately, they decided to find one partner to oversee all these responsibilities. As Rx Return Services Compliance Manager Frank La Greca says: “My goal was to find a company that offered a one-stop-shop approach and take care of anything we couldn’t. We would hand over the controls.”

Triumvirate Environmental's Solution

In 2020, Rx Return Services selected Triumvirate Environmental as the single services provider for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste management, as well as for pharmaceutical segregation and disposal. This way, Rx Return Services has a direct relationship with one major partner that provides customized coordination and collaboration for its particular needs.

Triumvirate Environmental is a premier provider of waste disposal services—and is also DEA-certified to manage pharmaceuticals (including controlled substances) according to the strictest protocols. The Triumvirate Environmental solution ensured that RX Return Services had access to disposal services, as well as specialists who are experts in materials handling and sustainable processes overall.

Rx Return Services has peace of mind: Its partner is current with all Department of Transportation (DOT), EPA, and local and state regulations. It also follows industry best practices for safety, efficiency, and security.

Long-Term Results

Once the relationship began, Triumvirate Environmental’s team of specialists consulted with Rx Return Services weekly, and observed existing operations. The team worked to establish efficient and compliant processes to manage the collection and removal of hazardous and non-hazardous waste—amounting to about 20 pallets monthly.

One new process involved designating a receptacle for Rx Return Services’ employees to place all unidentified substances into. Triumvirate Environmental then identifies the pharmaceuticals in question to dispose of them accordingly. This saves time and effort, and reduces overall risk.

Additionally, Triumvirate Environmental implemented a regular schedule for the pickup of the waste materials and expired pharmaceuticals. This enables the Rx Return Services team to regularly coordinate internal workflows and meet the DEA’s 30-day disposal deadline. This reliability allows Rx Return Services to simplify and streamline the process for customers. As the company expands, the program will scale accordingly, with a minimum of risk.

As La Greca says, “Triumvirate Environmental’s handling of these processes is a big help. Having the team onboard means there is one less thing for us to worry about. Security and control are big issues. We have peace of mind knowing the substances all are sorted correctly. The DEA can visit us and see everything is being done right. In fact, they already have.”

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