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Pharmaceutical Waste Reduction Strategies

Use a voucher option for samples

The healthcare facility keeps only a limited amount of commonly used sample drugs in stock, reducing potential for waste. Drug manufacturers provide sample vouchers to the healthcare facility, which can be given to patients to be filled in a trial dose size at a pharmacy. The pharmacy is reimbursed by the manufacturer.

Reduces Amount: Yes
Reduces Toxicity: No

Examples of Applying this Strategy
Generic Drug: ALL samples

Cook Area Health Services (CAHS) in Northern Minnesota implemented a sample/voucher policy, keeping 10 drugs to be given out as samples and issuing vouchers for other medications. The project has saved 23 pounds of medication and nearly $6,000 annually.

Proprietary Drug(s): ALL samples
Delivery Method(s): Inhalation, Oral Liquid, Ophthalmic Solution, Oral Gel, Topical Ointment/Cream, Oral Tablet , Oral Capsule

For more information:

"Intern Develops Solution for Addressing Pharmaceutical Waste at Two Clinics." MnTAP, University of Minnesota, 2007. Web. 13 June 2013.

Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP)
200 Oak Street SE, Suite 350
Minneapolis, MN, 55455

Phone: 612-624-1300
Email: mntap@umn.edu

Generic Drug: ALL samples

Suggested solutions for reducing sample waste include discontinuing sample use, adopting a voucher system, requiring drug company representatives to manage expired samples, and a sample management plan in which the health care facility refuses certain samples which are likely to go to waste.

Proprietary Drug(s): ALL samples

For more information:

Fletcher, Sierra. "Strategies to Prevent Pharmaceutical Waste: Addressing Sample Waste." Product Stewardship Institute, Feb 2011.

The Product Stewardship Institute
29 Stanhope Street
Boston, MA 02116

Phone: (617) 236-4886
Email: sierra@productstewardship.us

Sample policies for a given facility are diverse. Examples include tracking and having the manufacturer pay for disposal of unused samples, keeping the 'top six' sample drugs and issuing introductory vouchers from manufacturers or small trial prescriptions for other drugs, or having pharmaceutical representatives package and return expired sample medications to the manufacturer.

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

Additional Resources

Center for Environmental Information. Pharmaceutical Pollution Prevention. July 2011. [Report]. (http://lists.dep.state.fl.us/pipermail/pharmwaste/attachments/20110823/2d0a9a4d/PharmaPollutionPreventionReport-08aug11.pdf)

Daughton, Christian. Green Pharmacy and Pharm Ecovigilance: Prescribing and the Planet," Clinical    Pharmacology. page 220.


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