Vestara Launches EcoRexNS™ to Reduce Pharmaceutical Waste Pollution
- Only fully-automated, regulatory compliant system available to manage healthcare facility pharmaceutical waste, preventing entry into the water supply -
IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Vestara announced today the launch of the EcoRexNS™ Pharmaceutical Waste Management System, the first and only fully-automated, integrated system that allows healthcare facilities to meet or exceed Federal regulations for pharmaceutical waste handling and prevent thousands of tons of waste medicines from entering the U.S. water supply.
“Every minute, U.S. hospitals discard approximately 7,400 containers of hazardous drugs”
The EcoRexNS™ incorporates barcode technology, already widely used in hospitals to track drug utilization and prevent medication errors, and a proprietary, continuously updated database of more than 140,000 National Drug Code (NDC) products, to instantly categorize waste medicines. By automating the identification and sorting of different types of residual drugs, empty containers, and each hospital's unique admixtures, EcoRexNS™ eliminates the human error inherent in manual sorting of pharmaceutical waste to reduce negative impact on the environment.
“Every minute, U.S. hospitals discard approximately 7,400 containers of hazardous drugs,” said Alan Davidner, president and chief executive officer of Vestara. “While these medicines are life-saving in the hospital, they represent a growing threat to environmental and human health if they are disposed of improperly and enter the water supply. The EcoRexNS™ provides an efficient, compliant and cost-effective solution for hospitals struggling to address a confusing array of laws, regulations and outdated lists of hazardous pharmaceuticals with cumbersome manual sorting methods.”
Pharmaceutical waste management is emerging as a prominent public health issue as Americans use and dispose of more prescription medications and trace levels of pharmaceuticals end up in the water supply. A recent five-month investigation by the Associated Press revealed that pharmaceuticals are present in the drinking water of 24 major metropolitan areas nationwide. Few water treatment facilities currently test for pharmaceutical contamination and almost none has the expensive technology necessary to remove it.
Although all Americans likely contribute to this problem through normal bodily excretion or direct disposal of unused medicines, the largest single preventable source of pharmaceutical water contamination may be hospitals and other large healthcare facilities. A complex patchwork of regulations, the logistics of waste management and its impact on staff time, and the sheer volume of highly-concentrated, liquid chemicals used in hospitals all contribute to the potential for improper disposal in landfills or directly into sewer systems.
“A typical hospital will dispose of one million drugs and containers annually, making the task of determining whether each drug is hazardous and selecting the proper means of disposal overwhelming,” said Fred Massoomi, PharmD, FASHP, director of pharmacy, Nebraska Methodist Hospital. “Manual systems are difficult to design, implement and enforce in a busy hospital and often it isn’t clear when an unused drug should be poured down the drain or placed in a specific receptacle. Many hospitals have gone to great lengths to address this problem but have had limited success. The EcoRexNS™ represents the first simple, cost-effective solution to this problem and will allow hospitals to extend their health mandate to the surrounding community and environment.”
How the EcoRexNS™ Works
EcoRexNS™ features a barcode scanner and easy-to-use touch screen to help hospital staff quickly and properly classify waste as infectious, chemotherapeutic, hazardous, mixed hazardous/infectious or lower risk. Once the type of waste is identified, EcoRexNS™ opens the appropriate tamper-proof container automatically, reducing cost by separating waste to the least expensive waste stream that is in compliance with government regulations and reducing the volume of waste in the highest hazard categories.
After disposal, the respective waste stream receptacle is immediately returned to a locked state; it remains closed and secure until a user scans another bar code. Level sensors trigger automatic alerts to the environmental services (EVS) team responsible for content removal when receptacles are full. The hospital’s waste handler then disposes of the properly segregated waste according to appropriate protocols.
Each EcoRexNS™ station is modular and configured to the needs of the facility. The specific configuration is based on the required number and type of waste streams and the volume of each type of waste for that area of the hospital.
Vestara-Sponsored Educational Programs and Resources
Through an education grant from Vestara, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) developed two continuing education programs addressing pharmaceutical waste management in health systems: “Pharmaceutical Waste Management in Health Systems” and “Regulatory Compliance and Practical Considerations in the Management of Pharmaceutical Waste in Health Systems”. Each of these programs provides 1.0 hour (0.1 CEUs) of continuing education credit for both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, and are available through August 31, 2008.
For detailed information or to participate in these CE programs, visit http://symposia.ashp.org/pharmawaste.
As an additional resource for healthcare professionals, Vestara created the SaferSolutions resource guides, which offer concise information designed to help healthcare facilities comply with government regulations, and more accurately and economically manage hazardous pharmaceutical waste. Available at no charge through www.safersolutions.org, these guides provide timely information about the most prevalent pharmaceutical disposal violations within hospitals and specific steps for implementing a proficient and cost effective hazardous drug waste management program.
Vestara, a Vesta Medical LLC Company with headquarters in Irvine, CA, is strategically focused on drug disposal solutions that remove regulatory compliance confusion, creating conditions for better utilization of all hospital resources. Vestara’s goal is to reduce risks to human health and the environment by providing hospitals with both advanced technology that identifies and sorts drug waste and educational resources that support implementation of improved waste handling. More information about Vestara is available at www.vestara.com.