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Pharmaceutical Waste: 4 Things You Need to Know

July 11, 2014

Healthcare providers are tasked with many great responsibilities, some of which are exciting and noble (saving lives) and some of which are frustrating and tedious (disposing of waste).

Properly disposing of pharmaceutical waste might not sound all that impressive, but the benefits are actually pretty remarkable: ensuring that your disposal process is safe and compliant protects human health, the environment, and your business. And that’s a rather dignified way to spend your time.

But, as with most things, that all depends on whether or not you’re doing it right. We’ve compiled four basic (but very important) things everyone in the healthcare industry should know about pharmaceutical waste management and disposal.

Review it and make the necessary changes to your routine:

  1. Spilling or dropping a medication onto the floor doesn’t automatically render it harmless. If someone in your facility has spilled or dropped something, it’s imperative they understand that the medication is still a pharmaceutical waste that must be disposed in accordance with regulations.
  2. Patients are frequently discharged from facilities without remembering to bring their personal medications home with them. Unfortunately, these personal medications are now your responsibility, and you must dispose of them accordingly.
  3. Sometimes prepared medications aren’t fully administered, especially with IV bags and injections – remember that the remaining medication should always be considered pharmaceutical waste.
  4. Warfarin, arsenic trioxide, physostigmine and nicotine fall into a special subset of EPA hazardous wastes. Special care must be taken when dealing with these drugs, as even their empty packaging must be handled and disposed of properly.

Pharmaceutical waste management and disposal is a complex issue, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you need more assistance with your medical waste challenges or concerns, call Hazardous Waste Experts today at 800-936-2311.


Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.