The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on a draft guide intended to reduce the presence of pharmaceuticals in the nation's waterways.
The document, "Best Management Practices for Unused Pharmaceuticals at Health Care Facilities," and a Sept. 8 Federal Register notice about the document are available at http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/unusedpharms_index.cfm. The agency is accepting comments through Nov. 8.
The guide is intended for use at veterinary clinics, hospitals, medical clinics, physicians' offices, and long-term health care facilities. A final version of the document is expected to be available in late 2010, the Federal Register notice states.
EPA officials have previously expressed concerns that large amounts of pharmaceuticals were being flushed down drains at health care facilities. In August 2008, the agency proposed surveying medical facilities regarding their pharmaceutical disposal practices, but the effort was canceled in December 2009.
Instead, EPA officials indicated that data from site visits and outreach were sufficient to begin developing best practices for managing unused drugs.
The AVMA had stated that the veterinary profession is a minimal contributor to pharmaceutical pollution in water and urged that the profession be exempted from the proposed survey. The AVMA also developed and published a guide for pharmaceutical disposal, which is available at www.avma.org/drugdisposal.