Superior healthcare is one of the greatest benefits of living in a developed country, where the availability of pharmaceuticals treats a host of chronic illnesses and conditions to improve health and life longevity.  While the availability of both over-the-counter and prescription medications is beneficial for our well-being, there is a dilemma across the United States regarding the proper disposal of expired, unwanted and unused medications.

National Concern over Improper Medication Waste Disposal 

Drug Misuse and Abuse 

The opioid crisis in the United States is a full-blown epidemic.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, approximately 841,000 people in the U.S. have died from a drug overdose since 1999, with more than 70% of those deaths in 2019 involving an opioid.  The most common prescription opioid medications are prescribed for pain relief such as Vicodin and OxyContin.

Environmental Contamination 

There has been a high level of concern for the environment regarding the improper disposal of pharmaceuticals that contaminate our nation’s waterways.  Pharmaceuticals that are disposed of by flushing or tossing in the trash, make their way into groundwater and have adverse effects on animal and aquatic life as well as create a potential risk to fresh drinking water supplies.

The Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, regulates the proper disposal of hazardous pharmaceutical waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, RCRA, as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations, 40 CFR.  Proper pharmaceutical waste management includes cradle-to-grave accountability, segregation, and disposal according to federal, state, local and facility guidelines. One preferred method of pharmaceutical waste disposal is incineration.

Pharmaceutical Incineration 

Incineration is considered to be a safe method of pharmaceutical waste disposal according to many health and monitoring organizations such as the United Nations, UN, World Health Organization, WHO, the EPA and others.  Incineration is one of the best ways to dispose of many types of medications including outdated pills, unused vials, IVs, syringes, and various types of pharmaceuticals. Segregating waste beforehand is important in ensuring a safe and effective drug disposal program at your facility and is paramount to ensuring safe handling until final disposal.

High-temperature incinerators in the United States are regulated by federal agencies including the EPA and various state and local regulatory bodies. Waste incinerators reach intense heat between 1600° and 1800°F which degrades organic material into hot gases.  The gases enter into the secondary combustion chamber of an incinerator where added fuel raises the temperature to at least 2000°. This breaks the chemical bond in the gases into atoms which form nonhazardous, stable compounds when recombined with oxygen.

Pharmaceutical Waste Management from Disposal to Incineration

Training healthcare staff on the proper procedures for segregating and disposing of pharmaceutical waste is critical in any healthcare facility and any organization managing medications. Safe and effective medication waste disposal containers such as Rx Destroyer™ products provide a solution for on-site medication waste disposal. Rx Destroyer™ products are available in a wide range of sizes to meet the needs of various facilities and are simple and efficient to use.

When disposing of medications, simply drop the medication into the container where an activated carbon slurry begins breaking down medications on contact. This significantly reduces the chances for drug diversion and reduces risk of environmental harm. C2R Global Manufacturing manufactures Rx Destroyer™ products for quick and efficient medication disposal and assistance with finding the right waste hauler or mail back option to meet your needs.

C2R Global, Rx Destroyer’s™ manufacturer, is dedicated to sustainable drug disposal that discourages the misuse or abuse of medications and protects our nation’s water supplies. Rx Destroyer™ products help companies to improve safety and efficiency with cost-effective drug disposal products. Contact us to learn more and make safe drug disposal a priority for your facility.