Returning unwanted medications to the pharmacy

Posted: Dec 08 2020

When was the last time you sorted through your medicine cabinet? You may have a collection of medications you no longer use or that have expired. If this is the case, you should consider doing a clean out to get rid of those unwanted medicines.

Your local pharmacy can help you with this process. All pharmacies offer a service called Return Unwanted Medicines or The RUM Project. It’s a free and convenient way to safely dispose of your medications, funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Department of Health.

Return Medication

How do people use this return service?

Pharmacist Rany Alaeddine from TerryWhite Chemmart Mawson Central says this service is easy for everyone to utilise.

Rany says, “Customers can just bring in a bag of unwanted medications into their pharmacy. We can take all medicines back for disposal. Just be aware that sharps, such as diabetic needles, have a separate disposal process and are required to be put in a sharps container". Many pharmacies including TerryWhite Chemmart Mawson Central are also able to take back sharps containers for correct disposal.

The pharmacy then sorts through all of the medications and disposes of them in special bins.

“Once these bins are filled, they are sealed with a tamper proof lid and sent away to be destroyed via incineration,” says Rany.

What are the risks of keeping these unused medications?

When you get an accumulation of these unwanted medications in the home, it can cause a number of potential issues:

  1. Too many medications in the home can cause confusion, especially for the elderly, leading to medication mismanagement
  2. There is in increased risk that these medicines may be accidentally ingested by the wrong person, including children
  3. If the medication has expired it can be ineffective or potentially toxic

Rany says, “A classic example of this accumulation is when someone has a pain flare up such as post-surgery and are prescribed painkillers. Quite often they might only take a few tablets and the remainder get left behind unused.”

Another common scenario that pharmacists see is when someone’s medication changes, they may not dispose of the unwanted tablets as soon as they should.

Why you shouldn’t dispose of your medication at home

People who aren’t aware of the service might incorrectly dispose of their unwanted or expired medications in their household bins, down the toilet or in the sink.

“If you dispose of your medications in the normal household waste they end up in landfill and can contaminate waterways, causing environmental damage, with animals and plants being impacted,” Rany says.

You don’t need to return your medication to the pharmacy that you purchased it from, as any pharmacy can accept it.

Rany says, “With more than 5700 pharmacies spread all over the country, there are a lot of access points for people to drop off their unused medications, it’s very convenient.”

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Posted: Dec 08 2020


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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