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close this bookGuidelines for safe disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals in and after emergencies (WCC - ECHO - ICRC - IFRC - FIP - ISWA - MSF - UNHCR - Oxfam - PSF - UNICEF - UNDP - WHO/EDM, 1999, 36 p.)
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Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. Disposal methods
Open this folder and view contents3. Sorting categories
Open this folder and view contents4. Recommended disposal methods by sorting category
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View the documentFurther reading
View the documentAnnex I: Disposal by incineration
View the documentBack cover

Back cover

Large quantities of pharmaceuticals are donated as part of humanitarian assistance during conflicts and following natural disasters. They are often urgently needed and contribute to saving lives. But some arrive past or near their expiry date, are inappropriate to needs or unrecognizable because they are labelled in a foreign language. Others may have been sent in unwanted amounts. Additionally, due to the confusion that often surrounds an emergency, donated pharmaceuticals with a long shelf-life may be mismanaged owing to lack of storage space and staff, or to disruption of the pharmaceutical management system. The result is an accumulation of unwanted and unusable pharmaceuticals. How can they be disposed of safely?

These guidelines provide advice on the safe disposal of unusable pharmaceuticals in emergencies, and in countries where official assistance and advice may not be available. Aimed at ministries, health authorities, environmental and waste management authorities, and experts at ministerial, regional and local levels, they describe a number of methods involving minimal risks to public health and the environment. These methods include landfill, encapsulation, inertization, discharge to a sewer and incineration. All are suitable for use by countries with limited resources and equipment, and indeed wherever and whenever disposal of pharmaceuticals is a potential problem.

This is an interagency consensus document published by the WHO Department of Essential Drugs and Other Medicines on behalf of the organizations listed.