On August 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new rule regarding pharmaceutical waste disposal.

This new proposal will affect hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, long-term care centers and reverse distributors; these healthcare facilities will not be allowed to flush pharmaceuticals classified as hazardous waste, such as chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners, nicotine and certain nutritional supplements, down the sink or toilet if the rule is approved.

Although the regulation will not apply to individuals, the federal regulation is estimated to reduce the amount of pharmaceutical chemicals reaching the nation’s waterways by more than 6,400 tons each year.

The objectives of the new proposal are to:

  • Reduce the trace amount of pharmaceuticals currently found in many U.S. waterways in order to improve drinking and surface water safety
  • Reduce the burden on healthcare workers and pharmacists by providing greater flexibility in how facilities manage their hazardous waste while making the regulations easier to understand
  • Improve labeling of hazardous waste and emergency planning and preparedness to create a safer facility for employees and the general public