Pharmaceutical Waste - University of Houston
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Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical waste includes unused pharmaceutical products including drugs, vaccines, biologicals. They can be spilled, off-specification, expired, contaminated, or simply no longer needed, but are ready for disposal. Pharmaceutical waste may fall under a variety of rules and regulations, including: 


Hazardouus waste pharmaceuticals must be disposed of as hazardous waste, but may be managed differently depending on the location of generation. This does not apply to pharmaceuticals in the possession of the end user. Contact EHS for more information. 

Cytotoxic (or antineoplastic)

Cytotoxic drugs may not be regulated as hazardous waste, but can cause significant harm if improperly disposed of. Dispose fo these drugs through EHS and make sure to have an SOP in place before use. If you are the end-user (patient), then these requirements do not apply to your use. Consult with your medical provider regarding the disposal of unused cytotoxic agents. 

Controlled substances

Controlled substances are those scheduled by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and require a registration to dispense or use in a research setting. These pharmaceuticals must be disposed of via reverse distribution or destruction by the registrant. If the controlled substance is a hazardous waste also, contact EHS to coordinate regulatory compliance. Some assistance is provided to registrants to support registrant destruction of controlled substances and the disposal of waste products. Contact EHS for more information. 

Controlled substances in the possession of the end user are not subject to these rules, but may be disposed of through drug takeback events and participating pharmacies. Please contact UH Police or your pharmacy for more information. 

Not otherwise regulated

Many pharmaceutical wastes are not regulated for disposal other than as garbage. To ensure that this is the case, contact EHS for assistance in a waste classification for your records.