4 Best Practices for Dealing with Pharmaceutical Waste

When you work in a pharmaceutical setting, whether it be a retail store, or a medical center, such as a hospital, there are incredibly stringent regulations pertaining to not just how you dispense medications, but also how they’re disposed of.

This initially started back in the 1970s when the EPA backed the Clean Water Act. In the early 2000s,a
number of research studies showed pharmaceutical compounds were in the majority of the sampled streams.

The Disposal Act was put into place more recently, in 2014, and it dictates how long health care facilities have to store and dispose of various types of pharmaceutical waste items.

Pharmaceutical waste isn’t the same as products that could still have value if they were sent back to a manufacturer. Waste means those items that can’t be used and can’t be sent back, so they have to be discarded.

Below are 4 best practices to ensure pharmaceutical facilities of all kinds remain vigilant and proactive in their waste management procedures.

Know What Kind of Waste You’re Dealing With

There are different types of pharmaceutical waste. Some kinds are classified as hazardous, which means they have to be disposed of in a different way from non-hazardous determinations.

Working with a waste management provider can help you not only determine how specific waste should be dealt with, but also how to categorize the sub-areas of hazardous waste determination.

Provide Refresher Training to Employees Each Year

Training pharmacy employees on compliance and waste regulatory issues when they’re hired isn’t enough to keep up with changes that happen so frequently.

It’s important to make sure all staff members are trained on a regular basis to account for any changes that may have occurred. Bi-annually is ideal but annually will work as well.

Cultivate a Culture of Compliance

Pharmacy settings often don’t have the rigid focus on compliance found in other medical settings, because the focus tends to be acting as a customer liaison and providing the utmost in care and guidance to patients.

While this is, of course, imperative, so is creating a culture of compliance.

This can be achieved not only through thorough training, but also, regular assessments to make sure everyone is up-to-date on their knowledge of regulations. Put in place systems and procedures where the focus is on regulatory compliance.

Keep Everything Clearly Labeled

Labeling is so simple, yet is such an overlooked component of waste management compliance in medical and pharmaceutical settings.

Properly labeling disposal containers, and also having signs throughout your organization that let personnel know how they should handle different kinds of waste, can go a long way in improving compliance.

An Overlooked Issue

Statistics show only about 20% of pharmacists learned about proper medication disposal in pharmacy school. This is truly startling. As an employer it’s important to take the necessary steps to make sure every employee knows the ins and outs of proper disposal, to prevent not only safety hazards but also potential fines from government and regulatory agencies.

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