Evaluation of Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Practices in Healthcare Facilities in Lagos State, South West Nigeria

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DOI: 10.21522/TIJPH.2013.04.04.Art010

Authors : Margaret Okama Obono


The objective of this study is to find out how unused, expired, damaged and unwanted medicines are handled and disposed of in health facilities in Lagos State, South West Nigeria. An average hospital stocks between 2000 to 4000 drug items for use by patients at any point in time. Hospitals and households have been identified as the largest source of Pharmaceutical waste going into the sewer system.

A large quantity of Pharmaceutical Waste generated in hospitals include regulated hazardous and non-regulated hazardous Pharmaceutical waste and a significant amount of these have been found in underground water and drinking water.

195 health facilities made up of 5 tertiary teaching/specialist hospitals, 25 secondary healthcare facilities and 165 primary healthcare centres were evaluated using structured questionnaires to collect data. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20.

Results show that 85% of disposal of pharmaceutical waste was done by open burning, a method that causes air pollution. There was no significant association between category of Health Facility and method of disposal of pharmaceutical waste. Less than 10% of Health Facilities had Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal(PWD) programmes in place.15% of respondents see the need for designated drug take – back centres and will consider establishing one. The need for additional training on PWD was identified.


1.      PHARMACEUTICAL WASTE:- Solid, liquid or gas waste from Pharmaceutical products that can pose a substantial hazard to human/animal health and the environment when not properly managed (40 CFR part 261).

2.      HAZARDOUS WASTE:- Wastes with properties that make the product dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment.

3.      HAZARDOUS WASTE LANDFILL:- A disposal facility where hazardous waste is placed in a land treatment facility, a surface impoundment, an underground injection well, a salt dome formation, a salt bed formation, an underground mine, a cave or a corrective action management unit (40 CFR 260.10)

4.      DRUG TAKE –BACK EVENTS: - Any programme or series of programmes organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).Drug takes back initiative on which the public can return unwanted, unused or expired drugs.

5.      LISTED HAZARDOUS WASTES:- Materials specifically listed by regulatory authorities as waste from non-specific sources, specific sources or discarded chemical product.

6.      OTC MEDICINES:– Over -the- counter drugs that can be sold directly to a client without a prescription from a healthcare professional.


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