Final Rule: Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine
The EPA Administrator signed the Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals on
This final rule cost saving streamlined standards for handling hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to better fit the operations of the healthcare sector while maintaining protection of human health and the environment.
Importantly, this final rule will make our drinking and surface water safer and healthier by reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals entering our waterways by 1,644 to 2,300 tons on an annual basis by prohibiting all facilities subject to the rule from sewering them. This action will help address the issue highlighted by a growing body of publicly available studies documenting the presence of pharmaceuticals in drinking and surface waters as well as their negative impacts to aquatic and riparian ecosystems.
In addition, under this final rule, FDA-approved, over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies (i.e., nicotine patches, gums and lozenges) will no longer be considered hazardous waste when discarded, which will result in significant cost savings and burden reduction in the management of these types of nicotine wastes.
Finally, the final rule reaffirms EPA’s long-standing policy that non-prescription pharmaceuticals and other unsold retail items that have a reasonable expectation of being used/reused or reclaimed are not solid waste. It also provides regulatory certainty that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) applies when healthcare facilities send unused, unsaleable prescription hazardous waste pharmaceuticals to reverse distributors to receive manufacturer credit. Simultaneously, the rule incorporates flexibilities to accommodate current reverse distribution business practices to facilitate its implementation.
In 2008, EPA proposed to add pharmaceuticals to the types of hazardous wastes that could be managed as Universal Wastes (73 FR 73520, December 2, 2008). Although commenters supported the idea of new regulations for the management of pharmaceuticals, there were numerous concerns over the lack of notification requirements for those facilities that generate, handle or transport pharmaceutical “universal wastes” as well as for the lack of tracking requirements for the shipment of these wastes. Therefore, the Agency decided to not finalize the 2008 proposed rule, but rather develop another proposal for new standards for the management and disposal of pharmaceutical hazardous waste that are generated by healthcare-related facilities.