Properly Disposing of Pharmaceutical Waste.
Nowadays pharmaceuticals are more widespread and than ever, with 7 out of 10 Americans taking one or more prescription drugs—including antibiotics, antidepressants and pain-blocking uploads, according to researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center.
As each year such massive quantities of prescription pills being generated, medical facilities, pharmacies and patients are facing the problem of what to do with all their leftover and expired medications.
If pharmaceutical waste is disposed in a wrong way it can cause environmental damage and pose a threat to human and animal health.
If it is found out that or businesses illegally dump their pharmaceuticals, it can also mean costly lawsuits and a tainted public image.
Legal trouble for three big pharmacy chains.
In 2012, the drugstore chain Walgreens suffered damage amounting more than $16.5 million for “illegally dumping pharmaceutical and biohazardous wastes throughout California.” As part of the lawsuit settlement, Walgreens agreed to “fund environmental projects that will further consumer protection and environmental enforcement” in the state.
The world known chain CVS “agreed to pay $13.75 million in a settlement to resolve claims that it violated environmental law over a seven-year period by improperly storing and disposing of pharmaceutical and medical waste in the same year and also in California.” Thee consent between them also required the company comply with California’s rules on properly disposing pharmaceutical waste.
And in 2013, the drugstore chain Rite-Aid paid $12.3 million dollars after they were charged with dumping “toxic, corrosive or ignitable materials ranging from pharmaceuticals and pesticides to paint, aerosols, and bleach in local landfills over the course of six and a half years.” They were assigned with instituting an environmental protection training program and cooperating with medical waste disposal companies which are correspondent with state medical waste regulations for safe collection and disposal of their pharmaceutical waste.
Because of this major pharmacies went beyond the hefty fines—it was also a public hit to their brand’s image. If you are a company in the business of preventing and treating disease, being caught improperly dumping pharmaceutical waste that threatens environmental and human health does not make for positive publicity.
Safe drug disposal alternatives.
There are many proves which assumes that prescription drugs present a significant danger to the environment – but pharmacists, other medical professionals and even patients themselves can play a role in prevention.
A long-term solution to the proliferation of so many prescription drugs is promoting better public health programs and advising patients of prescription-free alternatives to wellness that reduce the need to produce a great number of prescription drugs in the first place.
The next best solution is learning and following your state’s regulations for safe disposal of your pharmaceutical waste. Check out tools for safe pharmaceutical waste disposal for health systems here if you are a hospital, pharmacy or other medical facility,
The FDA advises individual patients with unused and expired medications to first consult the medication bottle for instructions on proper disposal. Although some medications may be safely flushed down a toilet or sink, many others should never be flushed—so patients should be told to carefully read the instructions on their medication before taking action. Certain other drugs can be thrown in with the household trash, but they should be mixed with undesirable garbage or sealed in a container so that animals or humans, who seek unused drugs, illegally won’t pull them out of the trash. Again, it is best for patients to first consult the instructions that come with their particular prescription. Individuals can also research local programs that allow them to drop off their medications at a central location for proper disposal. Local law enforcement agencies can assist people who are interested in locating these programs. The DEA also offers mail-back programs and drop-boxes for unused drugs. Individual consumers can get more guidelines on the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals here.
Hospitals and medical facilities can also get help from waste management companies like Glycon. Glycon is familiar with the regulations in every state we serve and can keep your business compliant with regulations for pharmaceutical waste. Give us a call today for a free quote.