Home | News | Clean out your medicine cabinets but do so safely: researchers

Clean out your medicine cabinets but do so safely: researchers

Australians are stockpiling unused medicines and it could cause harm, a recent survey has found.

Sixty per cent of respondents said they had unwanted medicines in their household. Most were keeping them just in case they were needed again.

Of the medicines stored, a third were expired.

Lead researcher professor Amanda Wheeler from Griffith University said while keeping some medicines to use for reoccurring conditions, like migraines or asthma, is appropriate, others can be dangerous as expired medicines may no longer be effective and accidental ingestion could cause harm.

The research, published in Australian Health Review, also explored the disposal of medicines and found many people were simply pouring them down the sink or toilet or throwing them in the rubbish. Wheeler said this poses environmental risks and could have negative impacts on humans.

Only 17.6 per cent of respondents had heard of the National Return and Disposal of Unwanted Medicines (RUM) Project, although, once informed, nine out of 10 said they would use it.

The study’s authors said the survey provides important insights for health professionals. “It is important for those health professionals who assist consumers to manage their medicines to have strategies in place that routinely identify potential stockpiling and inform consumers about appropriate methods of medicines disposal,” they wrote.

Aged Care Insite spoke with Wheeler to discuss the health risks associated with stockpiling unwanted medicines and concerns surrounding disposal.

Click here to find out more about the Return Unwanted Medicines project.

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