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Pharmaceutical Disposal Programs: A Canadian Perspective Maine, November 10-11, 2008. International Symposium on Pharmaceuticals in the Home and Environment: Catalysts for Change. Edith Gagnon Environmental Impact Initiative Health Canada. Outline. Context Disposal programs Canada

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pharmaceutical disposal programs a canadian perspective maine november 10 11 2008

Pharmaceutical Disposal Programs: A Canadian PerspectiveMaine, November 10-11, 2008

International Symposium on Pharmaceuticals in the Home and Environment: Catalysts for Change

Edith Gagnon

Environmental Impact Initiative

Health Canada


  • Context
  • Disposal programs
    • Canada
    • Other countries
  • Other programs
  • Next steps


  • The Environmental Impact Initiative (EII) Division of Health Canada, is researching Best Management Practices (BMPs) for commodity groups regulated under the Canadian Food and Drugs Act (F&DA), including pharmaceuticals
  • BMPs aim at reducing the exposure of the environment to F&DA substances and products, to prevent direct environmental impacts and indirect human health impacts
  • If necessary, existing Canadian BMPs will be improved or more appropriate BMPs will be developed


context 2
Context (2)
  • Pharmaceuticals are being found in the environment
  • Consumption versus disposal practices
    • Canadian consumers dispose of a large part of their unused and expired pharmaceuticals in garbage, toilets, and sinks
  • By changing the behaviour of consumers, environmental contamination can be reduced
    • Disposal programs may reduce the levels of pharmaceuticals entering the environment


disposal programs
Disposal programs


  • Canada

: Province

: Region/municipality/community


Source: Wikipedia, 2007

  • Alberta ENVIRx Program (since 1988)
    • Alberta Pharmacists’ Association
    • Voluntary
    • Funded by producers with grants from provincial government
    • Collection by pharmacies (up 7% from 2006-07)
      • Antibiotics, painkillers, and medications for heart conditions
      • Encouraged to remove packaging
      • Sharps was accepted prior to 2000 (27 tonnes per year)
    • Incineration at Wainwright Regional Waste to Energy Facility in Wainwright, Alberta
    • Brochures


canada 2
Canada (2)
  • British Columbia Medications Return Program (since 1996)
    • Post-Consumer Pharmaceutical Stewardship Association
    • Recycling Regulation requires brand-owners to provide free consumer access to return/collection facilities
    • Funded by brand-owners
    • Enforcement and monitoring responsibility of the provincial government
      • Regulated programs in development in Ontario and Manitoba
    • Collection by community and hospital (out-patients) pharmacies
      • Up 17% from 2006-07
      • Participation of consumers ~20% and awareness ~31% in 2007
    • Incineration at Beiseker Envirotech Inc. in Beiseker, Alberta
    • Posters and brochures, websites, newspapers


canada 3
Canada (3)
  • Nova Scotia Medication Disposal Program (since 90's)
    • Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia
    • Voluntary
    • Destruction and transport are paid by manufacturers
    • Collection by pharmacies (up 18% from 2005-06)
      • Also the Safe Sharps Bring-Back Program
    • Incineration


canada 4
Canada (4)
  • Prince Edward Island Take It Back Program (since 2004)
    • Island Waste Management Corporation (provincial crown corporation)
    • Voluntary
    • Disposal is paid by the provincial government
    • Collection by pharmacies
      • Also the Don’t Get Stuck Program for sharps
    • Licensed hazardous waste disposal facilities off-Island


canada 5
Canada (5)
  • Saskatchewan Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Program (since 1997)
    • Pharmacists' Association of Saskatchewan
    • Voluntary
    • Pharmacies have to pay for the pick-up of pharmaceutical wastes
    • Collection by pharmacies
      • Sharps are also accepted
    • Incineration by BioMed
    • Posters reminding consumers to return all expired or unwanted pharmaceuticals, brochures and other consumer information



Comparison of Canadian programs

Note: Weight may include packaging, sharps, etc.


other countries
Other countries
  • Australia Return Unwanted Medicines(RUM) Program (since 1999)
    • National Return & Disposal of Unwanted Medicines Limited, national non-profit company
    • Voluntary
    • Funded by the government with limited support from industry
      • Restricted to collection and disposal costs
      • Government initial funds: $3 million for 3 years
      • Federal budget for July 2005: >$6 million for 4 years
      • Funding review: June 2009
    • Collection by pharmacies (up 2.3% from 2005 to 2006)
    • Incineration
    • Brochures and consumer awareness campaign for health professionals and consumers


other countries 2
Other countries (2)
  • France Cyclamed Program (since 1993)
    • Being restructured to stop the redistribution to destitute people of France and emerging countries < 5 % (planned for 2009)
    • Medicines distribution chain (pharmacies, wholesalers, industry)
    • Pharmacies are required by legislation to collect and dispose of pharmaceutical wastes (since 2006)
    • Industry finances external costs and wholesalers provide transportation from pharmacies to their facilities free of charge
      • Collection, transportation, incineration (63%)
      • Communication, personnel expenses, humanitarian donation (37%)
    • Collection by pharmacies (down 6.2% from 2005-06)
    • Incineration with energy recovery (7,000 houses x year)
    • TV, radio, poster and comics


other countries 3
Other countries (3)
  • Spain Integrated Waste Management System (SIGRE) (since 2002)
    • Initiative of the Spanish pharmaceutical industry with the collaboration of pharmacies and distributors
      • European Directive 94/62/CEE on the management of packages
    • Voluntary
    • Funded by industry, based on volume of sales (non-profit)
    • Collection by pharmacies (up 16.5% from 2006-07)
      • Separation into toxic, non toxic, and recyclable materials
    • Recycling or destruction
      • Disposal into trash dropped from 42% in 2003 to 8% in 2007
    • Logos and website


other countries 4
Other countries (4)
  • Portugal Valormed Program (since 2001)
    • Initiative of the Portuguese Associations of the Pharmaceutical Industry, pharmacists and distributors (European Directives)
    • Voluntary
    • Funded by members of the pharmaceutical associations, including community pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmaceutical distributors, and chemical and pharmaceutical importers
      • Eco-fee of €0.00504 euro for each package placed on the market
    • Collection by pharmacies (up 11% from 2006-07)
    • Incineration
      • Criticized for incinerating packaging rather than recycling them


other countries 416
Other countries (4)
  • Sweden Apoteket AB Environmental Program (since 2002)
    • Government (the national pharmacy)
    • Incorporated European Directive on waste into national legislation
    • Funded by the government (Apoteket AB, non-profit)
    • Collection by pharmacies (up 12% from 2006-07)
      • Prescription, over the counter, recreational drugs, needles
      • Consumers, care centers, dentists, hospitals, farmers (vet products)
      • 65% to 75% of all unused pharmaceuticals
      • Participation of consumers ~73% (target ~80% for 2010)
    • Incineration (gas is cleaned before being released)
    • Campaigns in media, at pharmacies and clinics in order to raise awareness, transparent plastic bags provided to consumers to dispose of their products



Comparison of programs of other countries

Note: Weight may include packaging, sharps, etc. *Exclude packages


other programs
Other programs
  • Aimed at reducing pharmaceutical wastes
    • By decreasing consumption and increasing compliance, e.g.
      • Reducing the size of prescriptions
      • Selecting the most appropriate therapies
      • Respecting quality of life and treatment costs
      • Promoting full use of prescriptions
      • Promoting the use and development of environmentally-friendly pharmaceuticals


next steps
Next steps
  • How do pharmacies, health care facilities (hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, etc.), manufacturers, etc., dispose of expired, unwanted, unsold pharmaceuticals (as well as veterinary drugs), and packaging (direct and external packaging)?
    • Survey Canadian health care sector and manufacturers


next steps 2
Next steps (2)
  • What are the best environmentally friendly disposal methods for pharmaceutical wastes (including any products that may contain residues of pharmaceuticals, i.e. packaging, sharps, human fluids, etc.)?
    • A comparative analysis of final disposal practices for drug wastes
  • Does Canada need a national program and what should be its scope (regulatory or non-regulatory, targeting consumers, pharmacies, health care facilities, etc.)?
    • Multi-stakeholder consultations with provincial, territorial and municipal governments; industries; environmental non-governmental organizations; and consumer associations


pharmaceutical disposal programs a canadian perspective

Pharmaceutical Disposal Programs: A Canadian Perspective

For further information about this presentation or to have a copy of the paper please contact:

Edith Gagnon

(613) 948-7925