Trevor Brown has no grandiose dreams of solving the nation’s opioid epidemic single-handedly with his company’s drug disposal pouches.
Instead, the CEO of DEact Medical Solutions is interested in being part of a broad-based approach to ending the deaths and addiction. As his company moves into its second year of existence, that vision is getting closer to reality. The prototypes are over. His product is ready for market, and the 25-year old Brown has begun building partnerships that will begin its distribution.
“We’re not the solution,” Brown says. “We’re simply part of the solution. We know we’re not going to come in and solve the opioid epidemic by any means. I hope we can push forward the discussion. We are trying things, rather than flooding the streets with drugs.”
DEact, which is based in a lab at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus and in an office at the Emerging Enterprise Center, has reached an agreement with the Delaware Department of Services for Youth, Children and their Families to distribute the pouches — which allow for the solidification and neutralization of drugs when filled with water — at community events throughout the state.
Brown reports DEact has also developed relationships with small pharmacies in Delaware and physicians who will distribute the pouches to patients when writing or filling prescriptions. The pouches are four inches wide and eight inches long and are designed to fit inside pharmacy bags. If a person deposits unused drugs into the pouch and adds water, the proprietary chemicals in the liner render the product harmless, allowing for disposal in a regular trashcan.
This prevents any extra use by patients as well as the dumping of untreated drugs into trash or down the drain, which can create contamination down the line. And it’s not just opioids about which Brown is concerned. Antibiotics and other drugs can have negative impacts.
“It can end up back in the drinking water,” Brown warns. “Whether you put them in the trash or down the drain, it can seep into the waterways.”
DEact is not without competitors. In fact, one just closed a deal to distribute its pouch through Walmart stores. Bad news? Not really. After hearing about that contract — and checking out a TEDx talk Brown delivered in December — CVS reached out to Brown for a consultation. “The Walmart deal put the concept on the map,” Brown says.
The long-term hope is that retailers like CVS will include DEact’s pouch with each prescription. Brown doesn’t ever foresee selling directly to customers.
“It will always be business-to-business,” Brown says. “We believe pharmacies will participate in a movement like this. They have the resources to pay for this.”