Healthcare facilities in the U.S. that generate hazardous waste pharmaceuticals have reported difficulties complying with some hazardous waste regulations. One of the concerns raised by stakeholders is that healthcare workers, whose primary focus is to provide care for patients, are not knowledgeable about hazardous waste regulations, but are often involved in the implementation of the regulations. Another concern is that a healthcare facility can have thousands of items in its formulary, making it difficult to ascertain which ones are hazardous wastes when being disposed of. To facilitate compliance and to respond to these concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to revise the regulations to improve the management and disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and tailor them to address the specific issues that hospitals, pharmacies and other healthcare-related facilities face. If finalized, the guidelines will affect healthcare facilities and all pharmaceutical reverse distributors. That is, the proposed standards will become mandatory, rather than an optional alternative to managing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. It makes one ask the question: “Can it be long before such regulations become the rule in Canada?”

Lisa James.

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