Policy: potential environmental impact of DMTs

Gold K. Analysis: the impact of needle, syringe, and lancet disposal on the community. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2011 Jul 1;5(4):848-50.

Did you know that there are over 7.5 billion needles and syringes used outside of the health care system each year by individuals with diabetes, migraines, allergies, infertility, arthritis, HIV, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, psoriasis, or other conditions?

In most countries disposal of needles, syringes, lancets, and other medical products are not regulated in the home. In comparison these same products used in health care facilities are strictly regulated. 

Home-generated medical waste may be placed into curbside trash, placing sanitation workers and custodial personnel at personal risk of a needle-stick injury. 

The Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal is working to establish a solution that is satisfactory to all stakeholders, sharing the burden of these programs with the pharmaceutical industry, medical device industry, waste management industry, recycling companies, and local and state governments.

"Until today this is an issue that never crossed my mind. I rarely, if ever, consider the environmental impact of the medicines I prescribe and use. I have simply assumed that because they are medicines and prescribed for a serious disease the environmental impact is justified."

"The environmental impact of injectable or intravenous therapies may be another reason to embrace the emerging oral treatments."

"Some of you may already be aware of  www.msdecisions.org.uk a website we run to help MS'ers make decisions about which DMT to start. Do you think we should include the environmental impact of the various DMTs on the list of factors to consider when making a decision? This is a not a trivial issue, leaving the oral DMTs aside, some of the injectables are clearly more environmentally unfriendly than others."