April 19, 2021

The Effects of Flushing Pharmaceuticals

Pharmaceuticals contribute many positive outcomes to the healthcare process. Among other values, they can decrease pain, fight infection and improve a patient’s physical and/or mental health and overall wellness.

In a 2017 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited that 3.8 billion prescriptions are written annually. However, other healthcare researchers such as IQVIA have found that in 2016, over 6 billion prescriptions were written in the U.S. alone. What can be agreed on is that there are billions of medications being dispensed to patients each year and the number of pharmaceutical options and patients is growing.

Despite the many positive outcomes of pharmaceuticals, many prescribed medications go unused and result in negative outcomes on the environment due to unsafe disposal methods. For years, patients and healthcare providers have flushed unused medications down the drain potentially resulting in the pollution of drinking water for millions of people. In February of 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Final Rule on the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. They wrote, “this final rule is projected to prevent the flushing of 1,644 to 2,300 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning the drain disposal (flushing, sewering) of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals.”

Download our infographic to learn more of the adverse consequences flushing can have on the environment and our drinking water.

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