By Cody Neff
Medical disposal systems can now be added to the list of things that inventive West Virginians have made.
A locally made product has made it to the voting round of Walmart’s “Get on the Shelf” competition, a contest in which the product that gets the most votes wins the chance to sell in Walmart stores and also receive worldwide publicity.
The local product, known as Element MDS, or Medication Disposal System, is already being used in hospice centers around the country, including Hospice of Southern West Virginia’s Bowers House.
Element MDS consists of a tamper-resistant bottle and powder system that, when mixed with water, will turn any unwanted medications into a gel-like substance. By making these medications unusable and putting them in a tamper-resistant container, the Element MDS also complies with EPA standards for medication disposal.
According to recent EPA studies, the common method of flushing unwanted medications has resulted in traces of these medications being found in public water supplies. Vaught Inc., the creator of the Element MDS, says that the MDS is more than environmentally friendly, it’s responsible, too.
“A lot of times people will keep old medicines in case someone needs it and that’s illegal,” director of business development Daniel Keaton said. “By disposing of old medications with the MDS, people stop breaking the law and they also eliminate the risk of someone taking the medicine and dying.”
Keaton says that’s exactly what happened to a high school student in Oregon who attended what is known as a “Skittles Party.”
“These kids had all gathered together and thrown their parents’ medications into a big bowl,” Keaton explained. “They took turns taking handfuls of pills and chasing it with alcohol. One kid died and another almost died.”
Keaton says the company heard this story directly from the surviving boy’s mother, who was involved in a community coalition that was looking for a safe way to empty their medicine cabinets of unwanted prescriptions.
Keaton says the company now receives more orders from community coalitions from all over the United States than it does from hospice centers.
Since prescription medication abuse is on the rise in southern West Virginia, Keaton says the MDS will also help curb some crime on that front as well.
“One of the things we’ve heard about from hospice houses and other caregivers is the number of people who break into homes of the recently deceased, often during the funeral, to steal medications,” Keaton said.
“The conventional method of mailing old prescriptions to a disposal company just isn’t working any more. Hospice caregivers need to be able to dispose of these old medications immediately so that people will stop stealing them.”
According to Vaught Inc., Element MDS is entirely environmentally and biologically safe.
“The powder that we use to break down the old medications is entirely plant-based,” Keaton said. “The powder is safe to the touch, or if an animal or young child gets into it.”
To vote for Element MDS and watch the product’s introduction video, visit www.voteforelement.com and click the orange “Vote for This!” button. People can vote once per day, every day until the contest ends on Sept. 2.
“We know we can win if everyone shows their support,” Keaton said. “This is not only a product that would help people all over the country, but it would also bring some good attention to southern West Virginia. This is a helpful, affordable product that everyone should own.”
Keaton says that the company would try to sell the Element MDS system for $6.99 per 17 ounce bottle if their product won the contest.
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