Proper pharmaceutical waste disposal is an involved process that affects every Georgia pharmacy. If you have any doubt your pharmacy is fully compliant with all laws pertaining to expired medicine and proper disposal from your site, then you need to read on! Being out of compliance can mean you must combat significant fines or even harsher actions against your Georgia-based pharmacy.
How to Dispose of Expired Medication: What Your Georgia Pharmacy Must Know
Pharmaceutical Waste in Georgia: Make Sure You're Educated
Step number one in ensuring compliance is making sure you and everyone at your pharmacy is aware of the basics. Identify what kind of drug waste streams you produce, and acknowledge that you must be disposing of these in a specialized way. If you're doing nothing special—that is, throwing the expired medicine in the trash or even down the drain—you must understand the severity of this noncompliance.
These kinds of practices put your Georgia pharmacy at risk for fines or other negative consequences, but it also puts the environment and anything that comes in contact with that expired medicine at risk.
Biohazardous Waste Disposal: Does Your Georgia Pharmacy Give Shots or Vaccinations?
While this won't apply to every pharmacy, if you offer shots or other vaccination services, you will have biohazardous waste that needs to be properly removed from your premises.
This involves putting any and all sharps in a puncture-resistant sharps container and then placing that in with your red bag waste. Proper red bag waste disposal also includes throwing all blood-contaminated items in the designated red bag.
If your Georgia pharmacy offers shots, regulated medical waste will be part of the waste stream you'll need to address.
Remember, expired pharmaceuticals should never be thrown in the red bag! This is not what red bags are for.
Expired Medications and Reverse Distribution in Your Georgia Pharmacy
If you have expired medication on site (a likely scenario for most pharmacies that have been in operation for several years), don't forget your relationship with reverse distributors. Most expired drugs can go through the reverse distribution process. If the drugs in question can be reused (often in a third-world country), the pharmacy is then given a credit for that.
The problem is this: reverse distributors are not waste management companies. If the distributors can't sell back to the drug manufacturer, what happens to these drugs?
The EPA and other governing bodies know pharmacies are generating waste, and you can get in trouble in two primary ways:
- You have no paperwork at all. If the EPA can't track where your waste has gone, you can't prove you've managed it properly.
- Your paperwork shows that all your waste goes to reverse distributors. This throws up a big red flag that proper segregation hasn't occurred.
What Reverse Distributors Shouldn't Take from Your Georgia Pharmacy
Anything that is deemed "unusable" shouldn't be taken by the reverse distributor. That includes crushed, wet, or other unusable pills.
A reputable reverse distributor should always pick and choose what it takes—rather than blindly taking everything. When unusable pills are in the equation, a waste management company should be brought in.
Where about Liability When It Comes to Expired Medication?
As with any waste stream, liability always and completely rests with the generator. As the pharmacy producing the waste, you are liable if anything happens with that waste. This applies even if you use a reverse distributor, waste management company, or any other third party.
If you think you're free of that liability because somebody took your waste, you are not!
This is part of the reason proper paperwork is so vital. It allows the pharmacy to track what happens with the waste—even after relinquishing it.
Make sure you receive a return receipt from a reverse distributor and the more thorough hazardous waste manifest when working with a waste management company.
How Medical Waste Management Companies Can Help
So long as you do your homework and select an experienced, reliable, and professional company with proper permitting and insurance, waste management outfits can be a huge benefit to your Georgia pharmacy.
For example, a good company will alert you of the need to (and then help you) properly segregate your waste into:
- D-listed waste and U-listed waste
- P-listed waste (acutely hazardous waste)
This segregation can save you from having to unnecessarily jump to a large quantity generator status. (Note, most pharmacies can avoid this classification with smart segregation.) This, in turn, saves you a tremendous amount of additional paperwork and taxes.
It also saves you from getting hit with fines if an auditor finds you with more than 2.2 pounds of P-listed waste and you haven't properly notified Georgia of your large quantity generator status.
In this way, it's conceivable to immediately make up the cost of a management company in avoided fines and filing status fees.
For more information about pharmaceutical waste and its proper disposal, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta business.