Managing pharmaceutical waste is an important part of many industries that use medications such as hospitals, veterinary clinics, correctional facilities, long-term care facilities, various healthcare clinics, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, and more. Pharmaceutical waste includes medications that are no longer needed, wanted or are expired and must be disposed of.  

Risks of Noncompliant Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Pharmaceutical waste, if not disposed of properly, poses serious safety risks to the environment as pharmaceuticals can be found in ground water and landfills which in turn creates safety risks for people.  Controlled substances such as opiates must be strictly controlled and disposed of properly to avoid the risk of drug diversion. Drug diversion is a contributing factor to the opioid epidemic in the United States, with an estimated 130 people dying each day due to an opioid overdose, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse.

Regulation of Pharmaceutical Waste in the U.S.

Different federal agencies regulate pharmaceutical waste disposal in the United States, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA and the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA.  DEA 21 CFR, Code of Federal Regulations, details requirements for DEA compliant medication disposal and EPA 40 CFR outlines regulations for proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste including hazardous medical waste as defined by the RCRA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

What Is Pharmaceutical Waste? 

Pharmaceutical waste is generated through various activities such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and within the healthcare system. pharmaceutical waste includes but is not limited to:

  • Expired medications
  • Discarded pharmaceuticals
  • Patients discarded prescriptions
  • Waste material containing excess pharmaceuticals (vials, tubing, IV bags, syringes, etc)
  • Waste material and containers holding hazardous pharmaceutical waste
  • Chemotherapy drug waste and materials with residue
  • Contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and gowns

Pharmaceutical waste can be further classified into three categories:

  • Nonhazardous waste
  • Hazardous waste
  • Chemotherapy waste

Nonhazardous pharmaceutical waste is considered to not present hazardous properties, although this is not an indication that they are considered to cause no harm to human health. Nonhazardous medication waste must still be disposed of according to your local, state, tribal and federal regulations, as well as any facility policy procedures.

Hazardous waste is considered harmful and potentially dangerous to the environment or human health, and can be solids, liquids, sludges, or gases. Hazardous waste is defined by characteristics such as ignitability, toxicity, reactivity and corrosivity. Solid wastes that do not exhibit a characteristic and that are not listed should be disposed of according to all applicable regulations.

Rx Destroyer™ Helps Organizations with Compliant Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

 Rx Destroyer™ has helped many organizations in various industries to maintain compliant drug disposal practices.  We offer convenient products available in various sizes that make it easy to dispose of pharmaceutical waste. Our customers have come to rely on our industry expertise and commitment to exceptional customer support.  Ask about our turnkey solutions including DEA compliance consultations, mail back programs and help with finding a waste hauler. 

Rx Destroyer™ is dedicated to saving water and saving lives, one prescription at a time.  Our patented solution meets DEA compliance regulations with no need to ever add water, no batteries required and no contract needed. Contact us to learn more and see how we can help you better manage your pharmaceutical waste.

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