What do Pharmacies do with their Pharmaceutical Waste?

What do Pharmacies do with their Pharmaceutical Waste?

What do Pharmacies do with their Pharmaceutical Waste?

Medical healthcare facilities and pharmacies in Michigan and other parts of the US are legally obliged to manage, store and dispose of pharmacy waste generated in a suitable and safe manner. This is important because improper handling of pharmaceutical waste can turn out to be extremely harmful to the human population, the surrounding environment as well as animals.

Irrespective of whether you have a retail pharmacy or a stand-alone store, a large amount of pharmaceutical waste is generated every day. Environmental Protection Agency – EPA tasked with protecting the environment has laid down a set of rules and guidelines for pharmaceutical waste disposal. All pharmacies, regardless of size, must comply with EPA guidelines.


Pharmacy Waste Management

Pharmacy waste can be defined as any waste that consists of medicinal drugs that are past their expiration date, contaminated, damaged, or are no longer in use. More specifically, it may also include:

  • Expired Medicines
  • Medications discarded by patients
  • Materials such as syringes, IV bags, tubes, and vials containing medicines
  • Open medicine packets or containers
  • Discarded medicines
  • Contaminated material with medicine residue


Pharmacy Waste Classification

 Pharmacy waste can be classified mainly into four categories which include:

  • Hazardous waste
  • Non-hazardous waste
  • Non-regulated waste
  • DEA controlled waste


Resource Conservation and Recovery Act – RCRA provides the rules and right information that can be used to determine if pharmacy waste is hazardous or not. It will also help to know the types and amount of waste generated and correctly classify them which in turn will help in following the rules accordingly. Some examples are Warfarin, Cyclophosphamide, Phentermine Hydrochloride, and other drugs.

Non-hazardous pharmaceutical waste can be disposed of in a landfill or destroyed using an incinerator. This includes antibiotics drugs, contraceptives, medicines for colds and ibuprofen, etc.

DEA-controlled waste can include both hazardous as well as non-hazardous waste. If pharmaceutical waste disposal is not done according to the rules, you may have to pay hefty fines.

However, the rules regarding pharmacy waste disposal may change and you must remain updated with them. The Environmental Protection Agency in recent times has changed laws regarding pharmacy waste classification. More recently, it was notified that FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies are no more regarded as hazardous waste. Thus, pharmaceutical facilities can now destroy the same using an incinerator along with the non-hazardous waste. Therefore, always keep an eye on EPA policy changes.


How to Dispose of Pharmacy Waste


Given the constantly changing EPA laws on pharmaceutical waste and other compliance factors, you can partner with medical waste disposal service providers in Michigan. The professional team at Medical Waste Recovery (MWR) provides best-in-class service and helps in managing and disposal of pharmaceutical waste at affordable rates.

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