AVMA provides guide for pharmaceutical waste disposal

Published on March 18, 2010
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

This issue of JAVMA features a pull-out guide intended to help veterinarians establish pharmaceutical disposal practices in their facilities and avoid water pollution.

The AVMA created the policy "Best Management Practices for Pharmaceutical Disposal" and the related poster in this issue in response to an August 2008 proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency to survey health care facilities on disposal of pharmaceutical waste.

The agency had proposed the survey to determine the extent of water pollution coming from health care industries and the risks this pollution posed. A Federal Register notice published at that time indicated agency officials were concerned that health care providers were dumping unused pharmaceuticals in drains and toilets, and that these chemicals could pass through public water treatment plants to surface waters.

The AVMA contended that the veterinary profession is a minimal contributor to pharmaceutical pollution in water and the profession should be exempt from such a survey.

A December 2009 Federal Register notice from the EPA stated that the agency does not plan to proceed with the survey of health care industries.

Outreach from the agency from 2007-2009 indicated stakeholders were nearly universally interested in better management of unused pharmaceuticals at health care facilities and were generally interested in advancing the use of best practices for managing those pharmaceuticals, the notice stated.

"The survey would be an effective but potentially time-consuming tool for gathering facility-specific data on the management of unused pharmaceuticals," the notice stated. "EPA estimates that it has gathered sufficient data from its site visits and outreach to begin the development of best practices for unused pharmaceutical management at health care facilities.

"During the next year EPA will continue to work with a variety of stakeholders in the development of these best practices and the means for their dissemination and adoption."

The policy "Best Management Practices for Pharmaceutical Disposal" was approved by the AVMA Executive Board in July 2009. To read the policy, log on here.