Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceuticals are drugs that are used to treat human and animal ailments. Some pharmaceuticals are toxic (e.g., chemotherapy agents) while others cause more limited physiological changes. Unused pharmaceuticals may not readily break down after release into the environment, and can be absorbed by plants, animals, and/or humans.

All unusable prescription or non-prescription pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical compounds must be disposed of through the Office of Environmental Health & Safety as chemical waste.

Hazardous chemical waste procedures are available on the Chemical Waste webpage.

  • Many pharmaceutical compounds are regulated by the EPA as listed or characteristic hazardous wastes when disposed.
  • Other pharmaceutical compounds are not regulated as hazardous waste but may pose a threat to human health or the environment and/or have the potential to be misused.
  • A limited number of prescription pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical compounds used in research and treatment are regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration under the Controlled Substances Act. OEH&S coordinates the collection of controlled substances for disposal annually every fall. Contact Wally Pociask at 313-993-7655.

Contact the Office of Environmental Health & Safety at 313-577-1200 for more information.