Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal. Patients and healthcare providers generate pharmaceutical waste in both institutional and individual settings, because of post-operative or serious illness recovery as well as chronic illness and other medical or mental health conditions.
Pharmaceutical waste is any unused, leftover, or expired pharmaceuticals this would be considered pharmaceutical waste. There are a variety of different types of pharmaceutical wastes, including over the counter and prescription medicines. These wastes come in the form of solid pills and capsules, creams, liquids, and aerosols. In many cases, the pharmaceuticals provided to pets are the same or similar to those prescribed to humans and should be treated the same way.
Below you will find most pharmaceutical types found in a healthcare or veterinary setting. We didn’t address some outliers for example, agricultural use of pharmaceuticals. As always, should you have any specific questions, feel free to contact us or your local, state, or federal government. Below is an informational general guideline and by no-means is meant to be all inclusive of current laws and regulations.
Over The Counter Medications – Nonprescription drugs are the most popularly purchased medicines, and they require just as much care as those that require a prescription. People use them to treat a range of health issues, including headaches, colds, acid reflux, and allergies, among others.
Non-hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste – Non-hazardous or non-controlled prescription drugs are those used to treat diabetes, bacterial infections, and blood pressure. They are dangerous if used by anyone other than those to whom they are prescribed.
Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste – The EPA regulates hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to ensure these wastes are managed in ways that protect human health and the environment. Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste typically includes P listed and U listed chemicals. The EPA has identified more than 400 chemicals that, in pure form, are “hazardous.” These wastes are designated by either a “P” or a “U” followed by a 3-digit code, for example, P100 or U303. The P list includes “acutely hazardous wastes” that are considered especially harmful even in small quantities, such as cyanides. Most businesses rarely generate acutely hazardous waste. U-listed wastes are hazardous, although not acutely so; this group includes such common compounds as acetone.
DEA Controlled Substances – Controlled substances are drugs or chemicals that have the potential to be addictive or habit-forming.
There are state and federal regulations regarding pharmaceutical waste and proper disposal that depend on the type of pharmaceutical waste it is, always check with your local government for proper disposal regulations in your area or call Bio-MED at 800-736-2466.
Over The Counter Medications Disposal – They contaminate landfills if thrown away or disrupt water supplies if flushed down the toilet. In addition to the obvious risks, leaving them laying around could cause them to be accidently taken by children or in the case of expired medication it could result in causing harm vs. the desired effect. The proper way to dispose of over-the-counter medications is through a medication take-back program. Most pharmacies participate in take back programs.
Non-hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal – Non-hazardous though they are classified as such, these drugs still pose a health risk to the environment. They should be sent back to a manufacturer on a drug take back program or a medication drop off box in your area for proper disposal.
Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste – This waste if it is fully intact like unopened, expired hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and are appropriately identified as potentially creditable returns, and not DEA controlled substances, can typically be sent back under reverse distribution guidelines for a credit. In most other cases this waste is disposed of by using a permitted hazardous waste combustor.
DEA Controlled Substances – Hazardous waste-controlled substances cannot be sewered, they must be managed in compliance with DEA regulations, and they must be combusted at one of the following types of permitted facilities: Large or small municipal waste combustor, Hospital, medical, and infectious waste incinerator, Commercial and industrial solid waste incinerator, Hazardous waste combustor.
Improperly disposing of pharmaceutical waste can pose a number of risks. For example, improper disposal of controlled pharmaceutical waste can aid to someone’s addiction or affect wildlife and domestic animals. Improper disposal of hazardous pharmaceutical waste can result in water contamination, air pollution, or soil contamination. In addition, failing to dispose of pharmaceutical waste properly can lead to regulatory fines.
One of the easiest ways to keep pharmaceutical waste out of the environment is to prevent it from entering the wastewater stream. To do this, make sure you are properly storing and disposing of your pharmaceutical waste according to local, state, and federal regulations. Also, make sure anyone who handles pharmaceutical waste in any form, is properly trained to understand what pharmaceutical waste is and how to properly handle, identify, and store it for disposal. This will help to ensure your pharmaceutical waste process doesn’t end up costing you fines and headaches, in addition to disposal cost.
One of the safest ways to dispose of pharmaceutical waste, is to hire a medical waste management company that has options for any type of pharmaceutical waste you generate. Here at Bio-MED we can help tailor a solution that is compliant and meets your facility’s needs.
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