Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Access to medicines is a right that every person needs to enjoy. However, studies have shown that pharmaceutical wastage contributes to high inaccessibility of medicines.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines pharmaceutical waste as expired, unused, and contaminated drugs and vaccines that are no longer required and need to be disposed of appropriately.

Have you ever received any information about the safe and proper way to dispose of expired and unused medicines? Many times, we have expired, contaminated and unused medicines in our homes. Therefore, we need to understand that these medicines can present with serious threats to the public and be associated with environmental pollution if not properly discarded. Unwanted medicines should not just be thrown in our garbage bags/bins, flushed down the toilet/sink, or burned, but rather be properly disposed of. The sewage treatment systems are not effective in removing all drugs from waterways, hence can result in environmental contamination.

Improper disposal of unwanted medicines can lead to accidental poisoning, especially by children, antimicrobial resistance, and contamination of drinking water and exposure of people to irritants or mutagenic anticancer drugs.

So, what is the best way to get rid of your household pharmaceutical waste? You are advised to take all your pharmaceutical waste to any nearby pharmacy outlet or the hospital pharmacy where trained pharmacy personnel will facilitate the proper disposal of the unwanted medicines.

This article was contributed by Christabel Hikaambo-Mwila.

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