New rule is predicted to save $15 million annually.
A new rule recently finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updates existing requirements for hazardous waste management in the healthcare sector. According to Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the rule streamlines standards for managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that will result in annual cost savings of $15 million and a reduction of the amount of pharmaceutical waste entering waterways by 1,600–2,300 tons per year.
The rule prohibits the “sewering” of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, but removes the hazardous waste label from FDA-approved over-the-counter nicotine-replacement therapies, including gums, patches and lozenges. It also eliminates dual regulation of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are also Drug Enforcement Agency controlled substances. In addition, the rule provides more flexibility in the way hospitals, pharmacies and doctor’s offices can safely manage hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, according to the agency.