Need of safe disposal of pharmaceutical waste and a self-contained protocol to manage such discarded drugs and wrappers was discussed and deliberated upon in a seminar organized as part of the World Pharmacists Day (WPD) at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, on September 25.
Experts in pharmacy, working pharmacists, drug regulators, medical professionals and students pursuing UG and PG courses in pharmaceutical sciences attended in the discussion.
Stressing the need of a proper drug waste management, they felt regulations are needed to handle and manage the pharmaceutical waste generated in manufacturing sites, drug stores, hospitals, premises of wholesalers/distributors and in households. The hazardous chemicals contained in the waste cause for serious diseases and allergic reactions in human beings and animals. Though there are regulations for the release of pharma waste into rivers or the environment in India, more attention is needed for a proper disposal.
All the participants, including environmentalists, sanitation experts and health activists who shared their viewpoints felt that the country needed a separate Act for Pharmaceutical Waste Management like Solid Waste Management Act, Plastic Waste Management Act, Bio-medical Waste Management Act, Hazardous Waste Management Act, etc. They urged the union government to deliberate on the issue and plan for research oriented studies and schemes for drug waste disposal.
The meeting on a common platform was organized by the Kerala State Pharmacy Council (KSPC) as part of observing WPD and the golden jubilee celebration of the Government College of Pharmaceutical Sciences attached to the medical college at Thiruvananthapuram.
Inaugurating a seminar on ‘drug waste management’, J S Jayakumar, sanitation expert at the Kerala Sanitation Mission, said there is very little reference about pharmaceutical waste in the Environment Protection Act 1986, which touches on the whole waste management. Since the world is going ahead with huge consumption of medications and other pharmaceutical products, a deliberation on how to dispose drugs waste is becoming a necessary. He said public awareness and concern about waste and waste management came to light after 1970, and later so many acts and rules were framed on various segments.
Elaborating on the subject, he said the bio-medical waste is classified into ten, and one classification is about ‘discarded medicines’. A detailed study is required on medication waste, its sources and a strategy has to be designed for its proper disposal. An inventory for pharmaceutical waste is also needed to be developed.
KSPC president B Rajan said KSPC will prepare a self-contained protocol for safe disposal of drug waste, and submit to the government for consideration. Pharmacy council is chalking out schemes for the pharmacists to train them for better counseling. Sixteen institutions in Kerala are conducting the course, Pharm D, so services of clinical pharmacists can be used for better counseling and public awareness on medication use and management of waste.
Member of the Pharmacy Council of India, M K Unnikrishna Panicker, said there are two types of pharmaceutical waste, hazardous and non-hazardous, but both are harmful to human health and environment. The country needs special regulations for disposal of these waste and a skilled team has to be formed to enforce it.
P K Sreekumar, assistant drugs controller at Thiruvananthapuram, while speaking on the subject shared his viewpoint that India needs a rational drug use culture. Authorities must think of a system for re-use of wrappers or a take-back policy as large quantities of materials under the label ‘waste’ is going waste. He said in Schedule M of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, slight reference is there about pharmaceutical waste management. In 2012, CDSCO issued guidelines for recall of date expired drugs. He said it is estimated that 25% of the diseases in human beings is due to environmental problems.
Representing Kerala chapter of the Indian Medical Association, Dr. Anandrajan, said 30,000 tonnes of medical wastes are collected by Kerala IMA every month from hospitals across the state. He said research oriented studies are needed for assessment of pharmaceutical waste.
Public Sector Pharmacists Association (PSPA) president, K Ajayalal and member of KSPC, S Ramabhadran also spoke on the occasion.