About 10,000 pharmaceuticals with about 3,000 active ingredients are approved and marketed in the U.S. These and their reaction byproducts, reactants and solvents can be present in wastewater streams that require treatment prior to direct or indirect discharges. Pharmaceutical production is a major portion of the chemicals manufacturing industry — in value and product diversity, if not in gross tonnage. Because pharmaceutical chemicals are designed to be biologically active, it is not surprising that disposal of their production waste products into the environment receives particular regulatory scrutiny in many countries. That could be one of the reasons why many pharmaceuticals are now manufactured outside the U.S., usually in Asia under less stringent regulatory conditions; fewer regulatory controls contribute to lower production costs as well as additional contamination.

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