With more and more retail pharmacies offering year-round immunizations, the subject of medical waste removal becomes a pressing issue that goes far beyond pharmaceutical-related waste. Of course, pharmacies are predominantly known for the sale of OTC and prescription drugs, which is why pharmacy waste isn’t exclusive to one category.
Pharmacies are just as liable as any other medical facility to abide by federal and state medical waste removal laws. It’s imperative that these facilities have a removal plan just like their hospital and medical facility counterparts.
Pharmacies are a source for community members to bring unwanted or expired medications for proper disposal. Unused pharmaceuticals are a hazard for abuse and are a threat to the environment if disposed of improperly. At most pharmacies, take-back programs allow individuals to drop off old medications, which are often disposed of in accordance with the law. This includes incineration.
Sharps Disposal: Vaccinations
It is no longer a hassle to get the necessary immunizations to stay healthy. Most retail pharmacy locations can offer their customers a flu vaccine, shingles vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, and tetanus boosters. Of course, this means that pharmacies must now follow all sharps disposal protocols based on state and federal law. The FDA offers information on its website to help patients understand how to properly dispose of sharps. It even features free printable pamphlets, posters and inserts that pharmacies can use in their facility.
According to the FDA, used needles and other sharps must be immediately placed in FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers. It also says that sharps containers must be:
- made of a heavy-duty plastic;
- able to close with a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid, without sharps being able to come out;
- upright and stable during use;
- leak-resistant; and
- properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste inside the container.
Of course, once a vaccine has been administered and the sharp has been disposed of properly, pharmacies must also dispose of the vial that contained the vaccine. Empty vaccine vials are considered medical waste and are governed on the state level.
Alcohol Wipes, Bandages, Rubber Gloves
With vaccine administration comes used alcohol wipes, bandages, and rubber gloves. Contaminated wound dressings, gloves, and bandages may be placed in a biohazardous waste bag where it will then be incinerated.
Some pharmacies compound medications on-site, therefore must dispose of compounds under federal and state law. These items are managed through a disposal system, just as with expired medications.
Keeping Communities Healthy
Pharmacies help keep our communities healthy, and MedXwaste helps pharmacies do that job and do it well with our pharmaceutical waste removal services.
Contact MedXwaste today to learn more about our detailed management programs for hazardous pharmaceutical waste.