Nyack Hospital Stays Ahead of the Pharmaceutical Waste Compliance Curve
s legislators in New York consider more stringent regulations for pharmaceutical waste disposal, at least one hospital, Rockland County’s Nyack Hospital (NH) – a 375-bed acute care medical and surgical hospital – is getting proactive. NH has gotten ahead of the compliance curve by enacting a pharmaceutical waste management program, reports nyackhospital. org. Using an extensive sorting process, NH’s pharma waste is characterized, segregated, transported and safely disposed. The program, say NH officials, ensures that everything from packaging to applicators to the drugs themselves are prevented from becoming a threat to the environment or human health. It also helps keep pharmaceuticals from being flushed down toilets and drains where they can eventually find their way into drinking water supplies. NH’s timing couldn’t be better. The New York Attorney General’s office recently cracked down on five hospitals whose lax pharmaceutical waste disposal practices led to violations of the Clean Water Act. Nationally, the effect of improperly disposed pharma waste has become a hot button topic. According to a report by the Associated Press two years ago, pharmaceuticals have been detected in the drinking water of 41 million Americans. As part of the compliance program, NH follows the state Department of Environmental Conservation guidelines and provides extensive training for its nursing and pharmacy staff to show patients how to properly dispose of their medications. While many hospitals are just beginning to understand the importance of establishing comprehensive waste disposal programs, NH is a step ahead. “We feel confident that we are making a positive, long-term impact on the environment and responsibly segregating pharmaceutical waste in a cost effective manner,” says one NH representative.
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Antibiotics Might Team Up to Fight Deadly Staph Infections
esearchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Israel’s Weizman Institute of Science have found that two antibiotics working together might be more effective in fighting pathogenic bacteria than either drug on its own, reports sciencedaily. com. Lankacidin and lankamycin, two antibiotics produced naturally by the microbe streptomyces, are only minimally effective in warding off pathogens when given individually, says Alexander Mankin, professor and associate director of the UIC Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology and lead investigator of the portion of the study conducted at UIC. Mankin’s team found that when used together, the two antibiotics are much more successful in inhibiting growth of dangerous pathogens such as MRSA, or methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus, and possibly others. The research results are published in the Jan. 11 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. Lankacidin and lankamycin act upon the ribosomes, the protein-synthesizing factories of the cell. A newly-made protein exits the ribosome through a tunnel through the ribosome body. Some antibiotics stave off an infection by preventing the ribosome from assembling proteins, while others bind in the tunnel and block the protein’s passage. Through the use of X-ray crystallography, which determines the arrangement of atoms in biological molecules, the Israeli team, led by Ada Yonath, a 2009 Nobel Prize winner, discovered the exact binding site of lankacidin in the ribosome. Mankin’s group demonstrated that lankacidin prevents the ribosome from assembling new proteins. However, when researchers realized that streptomyces also manufactures lankamycin, they became curious whether the two drugs might help each other. Biochemical analysis and molecular modeling showed that lankamycin binds in the ribosomal tunnel right next to lankacidin. “What we found most amazing is that the two antibiotics appeared to help each other in stopping pathogens from making new proteins and in inhibiting bacterial growth,” Mankin said. Today, many companies are attempting to make individual drugs better, Mankin said. What the research suggests is that in some cases, it is a “much better strategy not to improve individual drugs, but the combinations of drugs that can act together.”
4/22/10 4:29:42 PM
Medical Waste Management APR-JUN 2010
2nd Quarter 2010 issue of Medical Waste Management