Old medications pose a health hazard

With more than 5,000 children ending up in hospital due to medicine poisonings each year, Return Unwanted Medicines has launched a new awareness campaign.


The campaign explains the dangers of keeping expired and unwanted medicine in the home and explains how people should to dispose of medicines responsibly.


It is estimated that there are millions of medicines sitting in Australian homes – either out-of-date or no longer needed. These quantities of medicines pose a huge danger of accidental poisonings and medication mismanagement.


Return Unwanted Medicines - or the RUM Project - is a Federal Government-funded initiative that provides all Australians with a free and convenient way to dispose of expired and unwanted household medicines. Anyone can return their medicines to any community pharmacy at any time, for safe collection and disposal.


"Last year alone, over 700 tonnes of medicines were collected and safely disposed of by the RUM Project, preventing it from ending up in waterways or landfill. If that’s only medicines collected from around 20% of the population, imagine how many more are hiding in bathroom cabinets and kitchen drawers across the country," said Toni Riley, Project Manager, RUM, and community pharmacist.


The Griffith University study also revealed that most respondents (67%) said they disposed of unwanted medicines with the usual household garbage; followed by being poured down the drain or toilet (23.3%) and less than a quarter (23%) actually disposed of their medication by returning it to a pharmacy.


"By following three simple steps of READ, REMOVE & RETURN, Australians can minimise the risk of unintended poisonings and medication mix-ups, and do their bit to protect the environment," continued Ms Riley.


Return Unwanted Medicines is urging Australians to follow 3 simple steps to a safer home and cleaner environment:

READ Go to your home medicine area. READ the labels of medicines, check the expiry dates and consider whether the medication is needed.


REMOVE all expired and unwanted medicines and place them in a container or bag.


RETURN all expired and unwanted medicine to your local pharmacy. Your pharmacist will put your medicines in a secure bin for safe disposal.


For more information on Return Unwanted Medicines, see www.returnmed.com.au or talk to your local pharmacist.


5 July 2017.