New Technology Helps Keep Pharmaceuticals Out of Water Supply

April 8, 2011
Pyxis EcoStation system helps segregate pharmaceutical waste for proper disposal

CareFusion announced it has acquired technology to automate the segregation of pharmaceutical waste, helping hospitals reduce cost, improve regulatory controls and facilitate environmental responsibility.

According to the company, the problem of pharmaceutical waste is likely to reach a dangerous level, with U.S. hospitals purchasing more than 4 billion vials, bottles and ampoules containing hazardous materials and generating more than 84,000 tons of hazardous waste annually. According to a recent U.S. Geological Survey study, pharmaceutical waste was found in 80% of sampled water streams, contaminating drinking water. In 2008, another study found an array of pharmaceutical drugs present in the drinking water of 41 million American homes and in 24 major metropolitan areas.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been ramping up enforcement nationwide. Hospitals may be fined up to $37,500 per infraction, per day, for improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste. Recently, a government-owned hospital was fined $51,501 and ordered to spend $500,000 to develop a program for pharmaceutical waste management; another large cancer hospital was fined $372,254 for improper handling and storage of hazardous pharmaceutical waste.

With the acquisition of Vestara, a California-based company focused exclusively on developing solutions for the management of pharmaceutical waste, CareFusion expands its Pyxis medication management portfolio with the Pyxis EcoStation – a hardware and software system that can help hospitals identify, classify and segregate pharmaceutical waste, while providing records to facilitate tracking and regulatory controls.

CareFusion's patented Pyxis EcoStation system uses barcode technology for drug identification and a database of more than 180,000 National Drug Code products to categorize and separate pharmaceutical waste at the point of disposal. By automating the identification and sorting of different types of residual drugs, the Pyxis EcoStation system eliminates the human error and potential cross contamination inherent in manual sorting of pharmaceutical waste.

Source: PR Newswire

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