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What to do with expired and unwanted medicines
When was the last time you reviewed your home medicine cabinet? This chore may seem unnecessary on your overflowing household to- do list however it is a ‘must do’.
The fact is storing expired and unwanted medicines in your home poses a huge danger to you and your family. According to the Australian Poisons Information Centres, 5,580 children were hospitalised due to household medicine poisonings across Australia in 2015 alone, with most accidental poisonings occurring in children who are younger than five years old.
“I was shocked when I heard the number of incidences of household medicine poisonings in children and even more so when I found out some of these cases could have easily been prevented,” said Natalie Barr, RUM spokesperson, Channel 7 Sunrise presenter and mum of two.
A recent study conducted with 4,300 Australians revealed that more than 80% of people are completely unaware of the correct and safe way to dispose of unwanted medicines. Over two thirds of participants stated that they dispose of unwanted medicines with the usual household garbage, followed by nearly a quarter (23.3%) who said they pour medicines down the drain or toilet.
The ‘right’ way to safely dispose of unwanted medicines is be returning them to your local pharmacy. There is a free and convenient service called Return Unwanted Medicines (or the RUM project) which facilitates the safe collection and disposal of medicines via community pharmacy. RUM bins are located in pharmacies across Australia.
Follow these steps:
READ: Go to the areas in your home where you store medicines. Read the labels, check expiry dates and review all medicines. Consider whether you actually need them.
REMOVE: Remove all expired and unwanted medicines from your home medicine area and place them in a bag or container
RETURN: Return your expired and unwanted medicines to your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will put them in a secure bin for safe disposal.
Watch this video with pharmacist Caroline Diamantis and Channel 7, Sunrise presenter Natalie Barr discussing the importance of returning unwanted and expired medicines to pharmacy.