204450 Management of Unused pharmaceuticals in the Health Care Industry

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 3:05 PM

Meghan Hessenauer , Office of Water, Office of Science and Technology, U.S. EPA, Washington, DC
EPA is developing an industry survey to collect information about disposal of unused pharmaceuticals in the health care sector to better understand the current management practices and the magnitude of these discharges. Unused pharmaceuticals are defined as excess, leftover, expired, unwanted, and unneeded medications.

To date, scientists have identified more than 160 pharmaceutical compounds at discernable concentrations in our nation's rivers, lakes, and streams. EPA is studying how the drugs are entering our waterways and what factors contribute to the current situation. EPA initiated a study on disposal practices at health care facilities, including hospitals, hospices, long-term care facilities, and veterinary hospitals. Another potential source of unused pharmaceuticals is the residuals remaining in used and partially used dispensers, containers, and devices. Many of these dispensers, containers, and devices are bulky and are likely not disposed to the sewer as they could create blockages in the sewer; however, some might disposed of including medical patches.

EPA seeks to determine the effectiveness of publicly-owned treatment works on removal of pharmaceuticals from sewage. EPA hopes to understand what factors contribute to unused pharmaceutical disposal methods at health service facilities and which disposal methods represent best practices to minimize environmental impacts.

Based on public comments, there appears to be varying practices of disposal across the health care industry. Commenters reported the need for consistent guidance, procedures or practices on disposal of medications. There is a need to understand current practices and unintended consequences to propose informed public policy.

Learning Objectives:
Assses current practices of unused pharmaceutical disposal in the hospital, long-term care and hospice industries. Identify best management practices for proper disposal of unused pharmaceuticals in the health care industry.

Keywords: Drugs, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Presenter
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.