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At Summit on Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Government and Private Cooperation Emerges

Release Date: 06/12/2008
Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 /

    PHILADELPHIA ( June 16, 2008) -- The issue of disposing of pharmaceutical waste took center stage on June 5 as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic region and excelleRx, Inc. co-convened a summit which brought together 60 representatives from government agencies and private companies in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

    The issue has been in the news recently as trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been detected in drinking water systems in the U.S. For companies like excelleRx, Inc., a hospice medication provider, the issue poses challenges as they balance safety of medication disposal practices with concerns about the environment.

    EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh, who opened the summit, said he was pleased that so many interested organizations were joining forces to tackle this problem. “It’s encouraging to see so many diverse stakeholders sitting down together to understand each other’s point of view and try to look for solutions that will work for all,” he said.

    Welsh noted after the summit that progress had been made in the summit’s objectives of defining the problem, developing solutions and bringing interested parties together.

    Gary W. Kadlec, excelleRx Inc.’s president and CEO discussed the consumer level interest in pharmaceutical waste. “We routinely receive phone calls from family members, even during their time of grief, asking how they should handle disposal of leftover medications,” said Kadlec. “They want to do the right thing, and they aren’t certain what that might be.”

    Kadlec added that there is important work to be done with legislation and education. “There is a real need for updating and standardizing relevant regulations and for consumer and provider education”, he said.

    Other presenters included Dr. Mary Buzby, director of environmental technology at Merck & Co., a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals; Dr. Julie Becker, president of the Women’s Health & Environmental Network, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization working to protect the health of women and children from environmental exposures; and Mary Hendrickson, director of quality and regulatory affairs at Capital Returns, Inc., a reverse distributor of pharmaceuticals. Both Becker and Hendrickson spoke about pilot mail-back return programs in which they are involved.

    Among the organizations represented at the summit were the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the New Jersey Office of the Governor, Pennsylvania and Delaware Boards of Pharmacy; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control; the Pennsylvania Department of Aging; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the Philadelphia Water Department; the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia; Schering-Plough Corporation; hospice providers; the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

    There was a commitment among the participants to continue to work together on addressing the complex issue of proper disposal of unwanted medications. For more information, go to

    Established in 1996, Philadelphia-based excelleRx provides medication management and pharmaceutical distribution services for hospice and chronic pain patients throughout the United States. From licensed dispensing pharmacies in Philadelphia and Memphis, excelleRx combines proprietary technology with clinical experience to ensure evidence-based, cost-effective use of medication thereby enhancing care and quality of life. For more information, please visit

    EPA’s mid-Atlantic region includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District Columbia.

    For more information, contact Catherine J. Woods, associate counsel and senior director, corporate compliance for excelleRx, Inc. at 215-282-1735 or Virginia Thompson, sustainable healthcare sector coordinator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region at 215-814-5755.