201672 Safe disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products: Current practices in the United States

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 2:30 PM

Kathy Sykes, MA , US EP Aging Initiative, US EPA, Washington, DC
The major routes pharmaceuticals enter the environment are by excretion, bathing, and disposal of leftover, unwanted medications. Pollution prevention is the easiest of these routes to address thru proper disposal. Ruhoy will describe how “prescribing and usage of medications have ramifications extending far beyond conventional medical care.” The healthcare industry has an environmental footprint because the active ingredients from pharmaceuticals enter the environment as pollutants.

Pharmaceuticals designed for humans and animals that often go unused pose an acute exposure risk. Active pharmaceutical ingredients directly enter the environment primarily via sewage. There is an inherent conflict between the need to protect public safety and the need to minimize aquatic (and terrestrial) exposure. Drug disposal is an acute human health concern. The fact that drugs accumulate and require disposal illustrates problems with the administration of health care. A major objective should be the design of prescribing practices that avoid the accumulation of leftover drugs. Leftover drugs represent wasted medical care resources and suboptimal therapeutic outcomes.

Findings from two pilot projects funded by EPA will be discussed: a “mail-back” program in Maine and an urban “take-back” program in the St.Loius, MO region. Another abstract will address a pilot “ship-back” project with a senior center in PA.

Finally Hessenauer will describe the results of a public comment request regarding how hospitals, long-term care facilities, and hospices dispose of pharmaceuticals. This information will inform potential regulatory actions and identify best management practices of pharmaceutical disposal.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the practices at the community level for disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care practices. 2. Describe the practices in health care settings for disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care practices. Describe "ship-back" RX disposal model program invovling a senior center.

Keywords: Environment, Prescription Drug Use Patterns

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Presenter and Moderator
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.