Medication/Pharmaceutical Waste


Healthcare Facilities

Pills In Containers

Healthcare facilities are required to manage their pharmaceuticals properly. Many facilities use a Reverse Distributor to manage their unused and outdated pharmaceuticals. Those pharmaceuticals that cannot be managed through a reverse distributor program, such as outdated (but not returnable for credit), used in compounding or IV preparation, spilled, no longer useable for its intended purpose and any items used in spill cleanup (vermiculite, paper towels and the like) must be characterized as either hazardous or non-hazardous waste and managed properly. The North Dakota Pharmaceutical Waste Guidance can assist you in determining if your waste pharmaceuticals are hazardous waste or not.



Following are links to various sites regarding disposal of medication/pharmaceuticals from healthcare facilities:
North Dakota Board Of Pharmacy
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency - Health Care Industry
Healthcare Environmental Resource Center
Waste Management PharmEcology - Provides A One-Stop Solution To Help Your Organization
Florida Department Of Environmental Protection - List of Pharmaceuticals That Are Potentially Hazardous Wastes When Discarded
Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Disposal Information
US Fish and Wildlife Service - Improper Disposal Of Unused Medication Sparks Creation Of New Awareness Program
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency - Managing Unwanted Medications

Households
Household wastes also contain medications that, in the past, have been disposed of by flushing them down the toilet. In response to increasing concentrations of pharmaceuticals, hormones and other organic wastewater contaminates found in the rivers and streams across the nation, various agencies (the Office of National Drug Control policy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, Fish & Wildlife Service and the American Pharmacists Association and this Department) no longer encourage this practice. There are now several options for the disposal of unused prescription drugs that the Citizens of North Dakota can use rather than disposal into the sanitary sewer.

The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy has a Prescription Drug Repository Program where consumers can return their unused prescription drug to pharmacists or clinics so they can be given to someone else who can use them. A drug donated under the program must be in the original, unopened package, except drugs packaged in single-unit doses, or punch cards, which may be accepted and dispensed if the outside packaging has been opened and the single-unit dose package is unopened. A nominal fee may be charged. Check with your local pharmacist or the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy Drug Repository Program website for further information.

North Dakota also has a two Prescription Drug Take Back Programs - the Take Back Program at participating law enforcement agencies, and the MedSafe program at participating pharmacies. A list of the drop off sites for old or unwanted medications can be found on the North Dakota Attorney General’s website.

As a last option for disposal, if there are no drop-off sites available near you, you can discard medicine in the trash. Following are the disposal methods for unused medications:
1. Remove the label or scratch off your name on the label
2. Dump the unusable medication into a leak-proof, non-descript container (empty coffee can, detergent bottle, or sealable bag)
3. Make the drugs unusable or undesirable by:
    - If liquid, mix with coffee grounds, kitty litter, salt, flour or charcoal
    - If solid, add a small amount of water or vinegar to partially dissolve them
4. Seal the container and place in the garbage
5. If the medications are in a blister pack, wrap the blister packages together in multiple layers of duct tape or other tape, then place in the garbage.

If you have further questions contact, by e-mail at Christine Roob, or by telephone at 701.499.5207.