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Pharmaceutical Waste Reduction Strategies

Maximize use of opened/bulk containers

Medications are administered to multiple patients from a single bulk container, especially those that must be disposed of when a patient is discharged.

Reduces Amount: Yes
Reduces Toxicity: No

Examples of Applying this Strategy
Generic Drug: Insulin

Patient specific vials of insulin must be disposed of when patients are discharged. Safely using one vial for multiple patients maximizes the use of the drug and reduces waste, especially in the case of human insulin containing the preservative m-cresol, which must be managed as a hazardous waste.

Proprietary Drug(s): Humalog, Humulin, Lantus, Apidra, Novolin, NovoLog, Levemir
Delivery Method(s): Injectable

For more information:

Smith, Charlotte, Pines, Eydie et al. "Managing Pharmaceutical Waste: A 10-Step Blueprint for Healthcare Facilities In the United States." Practice Greenhealth, 2008.

Healthcare Environmental Resource Center

Phone: (734) 995-7989

Generic Drug: Insulin

Inhalers, creams and powders can be purchased in bulk to avoid having to dispose of individual containers when a patient leaves the facility. IV s can also be made from bulk bottles to reduce waste.

Proprietary Drug(s): Humulin
Delivery Method(s): Injectable

Additional Resources

CDC's frequently asked questions about multidose vials

CDC's frequently asked questions on single dose vials

"In Struggle to Cut Expenses, Hospitals Eye the Pharmacy" --article from Hospital & Health Networks magazine


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