BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention generally relates to methods for the removal of pharmaceutical agents from human waste that is completely segregated from all other types of waste matter. More specifically, this invention relates to a method in which a permanent or portable device is provided to be used by individuals who have been treated with pharmaceutical agents, which if released into the environment could pose an environmental hazard. The portable device is configured for two types of toilet facilities. One type can be transported and used daily by outpatients and patients recovering at home. Another type of unit is removably installed semi-portably in a hospital facility to allow isolation of a patient's waste from the sewage system and, thus, from the ecosystem. Thereafter the waste as an isolated unit is transported to a facility where the pharmaceuticals can be harvested, isolated and then either disposed of or recycled.
2. Description of the Prior Art
In response to ecological considerations, the proper treatment and disposal of waste materials have become increasingly of concern. Much interest has been directed toward solid waste management, with recent emphasis on the exclusion of toxic materials from landfills. A counterpart to solid waste management is the treatment of human wastes. Sewage treatment plants have long been used to purify sewage through the activity of aerobic or anaerobic bacteria which digest sewage. The bacteria convert the sewage into a sludge which, when filtered and dried, can be used as a fertilizer base.
While such techniques serve their purpose well, the processes involved generally do not have any effect on pharmaceutical wastes expelled into the ecosystem from the patient and those pharmaceuticals are toxic to all when present in the sewage system. No regard has been given to pharmaceutical wastes present in homes which rely on septic tank systems. Generally, and as used herein, pharmaceutical wastes are pharmaceutical agents and their metabolized byproducts which are excreted by individuals being treated with such agents. An example of the toxic oncology drugs secreted in human waste and the
|A Partial List of the Toxic Oncology Drugs Secreted In Human Waste |
|And the Length of Time for Their Excretion |
|Bleomycin ||excreted in urine 72 hrs. 50% in 1st day |
|Busulfan ||excreted in urine 12-24 hrs. |
|Carboplatin ||excreted in urine 24 to 48 hrs. |
|Carmustine ||excreted in the urine over 96 hrs. |
|Chlorambucil ||excreted in urine in 48 hrs. |
|Cistplatin ||excreted in urine in 7 days |
|Citrate ||excreted in feces and urine |
|Chlorambucil ||excreted mostly in urine 60% in 24 hrs. |
|Cyclophosphamide ||excreted in urine 72 hours (i.v.) |
|Cytarabine ||excreted in the urine within 1st day |
|Dacarbazine ||excreted in the urine 30-46% within 6 hrs. |
|Dactinomycin ||excreted in urine in 5 days 20% in first 24 hrs. |
|Daunorubicin ||excreted in feces 7 days 48 hrs. in urine |
|Doxorubicin ||excreted in feces 7 days urine 6 days |
|Epirubicin Hydo ||excreted in urine 7 days and feces 5 days |
|Etoposide ||excreted in urine in 4 days feces in 7 days |
|Fluorouracil ||excreted in urine in 48 hrs. |
|Floxuridine ||excreted in the urine |
|Hydrochloride ||60% excreted in urine 40% in feces |
|Hydroxyurea ||excreted in urine |
|Ifosfamide ||excreted in urine 48 hrs. |
|Limustine ||excreted principally in the urine |
|Mechlorethamine ||excreted in urine in 48 hrs. |
|Megestrol Acetate ||excreted in urine 57-78% |
|Melphalan ||excreted in urine 48 hrs. |
|Mercaptopurine ||excreted in urine in 72 hrs. |
|Methotrexate ||excreted in the urine 72 hrs. |
|Mitomycin ||excreted in urine first day |
|Mitoxantrone ||excreted in urine |
|Plicamycin ||excreted in urine 40% in 15 hrs. |
|Streptozocin ||excreted principally in urine |
|Tamoxifen ||research not completed |
|Thiotepa ||excreted in urine in 72 hrs. |
|Thioguanine ||excreted in urine in 72 hrs. |
|Vincristine sulfate ||excreted in urine 4 days |
|Vinblastine Sulfate ||excreted in urine 4 days |
Often, the agents and/or their metabolized byproducts are carcinogenic, particularly those pharmaceuticals used in oncological treatments and chemotherapy, and therefore pose a toxic hazard risk. Consequently, sewage treatment plants and septic systems typically generate some level of carcinogens, which are released into the environment as a byproduct of sewage treatment plants and septic systems.
The hazards of such carcinogenic wastes have been recognized, and in response hospitals employ appropriate waste disposal techniques for medical devices such as syringes, clothing, pharmaceutical containers and mixing equipment, and for unused medicinal portions, but no thought has been given to their patients who have been treated with pharmaceuticals whose human metabolic waste could pose a hazard to the environment. Moreover, patients are often released from the hospital while therapeutic drug levels are still in their bodies, or are treated on an outpatient basis. As such, any harmful pharmaceuticals within their systems may or may not be eliminated within the controlled environment of the hospital, but will generally be eliminated elsewhere for up to about three days, such that the pharmaceuticals are again released directly into a municipal sewage system or septic system.
Various approaches to isolating constituents of human waste have been proposed in the past, though none have been addressed to solving the problem outlined above. Moreover, the devices taught for isolating human waste constituents have not been adapted or suitable for use by patients on an individual basis. As an example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,285,077 to Braxton teaches a portable public toilet which is equipped with a filtering device disposed in the drain conduit of a urinal bowl. The filtering device serves to collect pharmaceutically useful trace elements within urine which passes through the filtering device. While well conceived for its purpose, the large portable toilet taught by Braxton is impractical for use by individual patients over a brief period after treatment and after release from the hospital. Furthermore, the portable toilet is only directed to isolating certain trace elements from urine.
Current disposal and contamination prevention procedures do not take into account the hazards of burning toxic medical wastes that contain remnants of toxic pharmaceuticals. The burning procedure simply changes the pollution from a water borne pollutant via the sewage treatment system to an airborne pollutant via current incineration procedures. Most approved incinerators today cannot effectively or safely destroy the toxic drugs by burning.
From the above, it can be appreciated that the prior art is lacking a method for preventing the release of potentially hazardous pharmaceuticals into municipal sewage systems by patients who have undergone treatment with such pharmaceuticals. Accordingly, what is needed is a reliable and sanitary method by which human wastes can be collected, to isolate, remove and treat toxic components in a cost efficient manner, such that the pharmaceuticals can be properly disposed, recovered or recycled. Ideally, such a method would enable such pharmaceuticals to be reclaimed and recycled when possible.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to the present invention there is provided a method for collecting, segregating by type, and removing pharmaceutical agents introduced into the human body for medical treatment of patients from human wastes. Such pharmaceuticals may include their metabolized byproducts, either or both of which may be harmful as a toxin or a carcinogen. The method generally includes the use of a portable human waste containment unit (WCU) or permanent unit configured to adapt to a standard toilet and removably attached thereto which serves as a toilet for an individual who has been treated with a pharmaceutical agent. The permanent unit is identical to the portable unit but designed to custom fit existing toilet facilities and be equipped with a removable waste containment suction that is removed on a regular basis. The removable portion would include any part of the unit that comes into contact with the patient's body or waste.
The unit can be removably fixed to a standard toilet or portable and has specialized components made from easily destroyed or replaceable materials that come into contact with the patient's body. This is to allow for the destruction or disinfecting of the toxic drugs that are eliminated by the patient through the normal process of perspiration.
The waste containment unit is preferably configured as a self-contained unit, such that it is capable of being sealed for transporting as a unit to a facility where human wastes accumulated within the waste containment unit can be appropriately processed. An outer, upper surface of the waste containment unit forms a seat equipped with a cover for sealing the waste containment unit. The waste containment unit includes a reservoir whose capacity is preferably sufficient to hold human waste produced over approximately a seven day period, such that the reservoir has a capacity for use during a period in which pharmaceuticals and their metabolized byproducts are typically eliminated from the body of an individual.
This new technology requires the complete segregation of the patient's bodily wastes and is not limited to urine and feces as it must contain the specific provision that all parts of the sanitation unit that come in contact with the patient must be disinfected or replaced and destroyed in an approved manner. The patient can expel the toxic drugs through their normal function of perspiration.
This device is the only waste abatement process that is in place in the hospital and in the patient's home. This device is customized for each patient to be utilized in the hospital and home and is structured to prevent combining of different types of pharmaceuticals which may cause a greater pollution hazard.
As such, the waste containment unit of this invention enables a method by which human wastes containing pharmaceutical agents and their metabolized byproducts can be collected by a patient both while in the hospital and while away from the hospital. As noted above, both waste containment units are configured with a seat, allowing the patient to sit on the waste containment unit and void into the waste containment unit. Because the preferred waste containment unit of this invention is portable, the patient is capable of using it at home or any other location which is convenient for its use.
Thereafter, the waste reservoir compartment of the waste containment unit can be sealed and transported to a suitable facility, where the pharmaceutical agents can be removed from the human wastes. The wastes can then be processed with bacteria or incinerated in a conventional manner known in the art as discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,168,316 to Webster, Jr. et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,359,415 to Sloane; 4,452,987 to Bonifacio; U.S. Pat. No. 4,479,937 to Said et al; and U.S. Pat. No. 4,944,884 to Naoi; as well as other conventional processes well known in the art and incorporated herein by reference. In contrast, the pharmaceutical agent or agents can be recycled, if possible, or otherwise properly disposed of in an appropriate manner. Any metabolized byproducts of the pharmaceutical agent can also be removed and recycled or disposed of in a manner known in the art.
In view of the above, it can be seen that a significant advantage of the present invention is that a method is provided by which harmful pharmaceutical agents and their metabolized byproducts can be prevented from entering a municipal sewage treatment plant or septic system. The harmful pharmaceutical agents and their metabolized byproducts are now entering the environment as airborne or ground pollutants when the delivery instruments such as syringes are destroyed by burning or dumping in landfills. The invention will allow a safe place in which to clear out the syringes or IV instruments to further prevent the toxic drugs from entering the ecosystem. As such, a source of toxic and carcinogenic matter is prevented from being eventually released into the environment. The benefits of this invention are particularly significant for large urban areas where relatively high levels of pharmaceuticals may be present in the municipal sewage.
Another advantage of this invention is that some pharmaceuticals can be reclaimed, and thereafter returned to a pharmaceutical company for purification and reuse. As such, the method of this invention provides a potentially economical source for certain pharmaceuticals. A particularly useful scenario for the implementation of this invention is for patients undergoing chemotherapy or other medical therapy, in which patients are subjected to treatment with toxic pharmaceuticals.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method by which pharmaceutical agents can be prevented from entering the environment by isolating and removing the agents from human wastes.
It is a further object of the invention that the method entail the use of a removably permanent or portable waste containment unit which is configured as a self-contained unit for use by an individual.
It is still a further object of the invention that the waste containment unit be provided with a seat formed on one surface thereof, so as to permit an individual to sit on the waste containment unit while voiding into the waste containment unit.
It is another object of the invention that the portable waste containment unit be constructed in a manner that allows the proper sterilization or disposal of all parts and materials touched by either the patient or the patient's wastes, such as the seat, lid and the waste receptacle.
It is yet another object of the invention that the waste containment unit be configured to accommodate human wastes produced over a period in which pharmaceuticals and their metabolized byproducts are eliminated from the body of the user (see chart hereinabove).
It is yet another object of the invention that the method enable pharmaceuticals to be reclaimed, and thereafter returned to a pharmaceutical company for purification and reuse.