How Do You Dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste?

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What is Pharmaceutical Waste?

When looking at the disposal of pharmaceutical waste it is important to note that pharmaceutical waste is classified into three main categories: prescription only drugs, over the counter medicines, and research and development drugs. They become Pharmaceutical waste when the medicines are contaminated, damaged, no longer needed or have expired. Pharmaceutical waste also includes glass bottles and vials, flu-absorbers, de-nurturing kits, cytotoxic and cytostatic drugs.

Why is Pharmaceutical Waste Management Important?

The correct management of pharmaceutical waste and medicinal waste is important. This is to protect public safety and that the environment from contamination. Doctors, Vets, pharmacists and anyone involved prescribing, supplying, disposing or destroying controlled medicines must comply with the law on the misuse of drugs and veterinary medicines.

Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical waste disposal differs from other waste streams. Special precautions must be taken when handling and disposing of pharmaceutical waste. For example, all out of date or unwanted controlled drugs should be denatured before being destroyed. This prevents controlled drugs being retrieved, recovered or reused prior to destruction by incineration.

To ensure the safe disposal of medicinal and pharmaceutical waste it is important to segregate the waste – to assist with this there are UN approved colour coded bins in various sizes to meet your requirements. Disposal is then completed by incineration to ensure your peace of mind and public safety.

When disposing of controlled drugs (CDs) it is important to understand the difference between pharmaceutical waste and stock. CDs are classified as stock when there are usable quantities, even if the product is out of date. In this instance the destruction must be completed and directed by an authorised witness. Once the CDs are destroyed a certificate of destruction is issued. The CDs would be considered waste when there isn’t a reusable quantity left – for example: 1 ml single use vial – 0.6 ml drawn up and used leaving 0.4 ml remaining – this small amount is considered waste and therefore a witness isn’t required.

The rules are different for the disposal of Prescription only Medicine (POM) such as Cocodamol or Tramadol. There is no need for a witness to observe or control the destruction of POMs.

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