What do you do with your old medicines?

  Totally-braindead 21:41 23 May 2007

I was thinking about this tonight because I had to get rid of a nearly full box of tablets I had which I no longer needed. Because of the safety aspect of it I flushed them down the toilet and was just wondering what everyone else did with them.
I believe the chemists will take them and dispose of them but even so its a terrible waste.
I was thinking after I got rid of them that these particular tablets were sealed in the tin foil stuff so it was unlikely they could be meddled with, and was thinking about people in the third world the lack of medical resources etc. And wondered if there wasn't some way to give our leftover medicines to them.

Is it just a silly idea? Is it unworkable or just plain unsafe as you can't know the tablets haven't been tampered with?

Just wondering what people thought.

  Joe R 21:45 23 May 2007


I don't know if all are the same, but our local health centre, accepts returns of these types of products.

  Totally-braindead 21:51 23 May 2007

Joe R do you know what happens to them as if you hand them into the chemists I have been told they are destroyed and it seems like a terrible waste. Does the health centre destroy them as well?

  Jak_1 21:57 23 May 2007

Flush them down the loo. Once issued they cannot be re-issued for safety reasons. Medicines and tablets handed back to chemists are destroyed because they can never be sure what conditions they have been stored under even though the packaging may seem fine.
One point though, if prescribed antibiotics then the full course should be taken even though you may feel better after a few days. Reason is that not all the bacteria causing the infection will have been killed of and what remain could become resistant to that antibiotic. It is also likely that the infection will rear it's ugly head a short time later requiring a different antibiotic.

  bluto1 22:01 23 May 2007

Down the loo for all the reasons above.

  justme 22:01 23 May 2007

As far as I know, all returned medicines are destroyed.

It may seem like a waste but would you want to be treated with a medicine which had been wrongly identified or was the wrong strength?

Even worse, what would you say if the pharmacist issued you with a medicine which had been deliberately tampered with? You and I may think that that could never happen but there are a lot of misguided people out there.

Before I retired I worked in a quality control laboratory for a pharmaceutical company. You would not believe the precautions which are necessary to ensure that any medicine which you get is exactly as it was intended.

  Woolwell 22:10 23 May 2007

I understand that it is a bad idea to flush them down the loo as it could cause contamination of the water supply. I think that this is because traces of the medicines can pass through the sewage treatment and then enter the waterways or sea.

  Totally-braindead 22:10 23 May 2007

Yeah I suppose I never thought about the storage issue, they could have been sitting on top of a heater for 6 months.
Its a shame its not workable.
I'll tick this as resolved, I thought it might have been a stupid idea I just hate waste, Scottish you see.

Thanks for the posts.

  spuds 23:08 23 May 2007

All unused medicines and tablets etc should be taken to any chemist, who will dispose of them correctly. A few years ago some types of tablets that were still within date and unopened, were collected by a recognised charity agency and shipped to third world countries. Not sure whether this scheme is still used.

One thing that I do know, that since the Dr Shipman affair, things about supply and disposal of drugs have tightened up considerably.

  oresome 23:26 23 May 2007

No wonder my sperm count's going down!

Flushing drugs down the loo as Woolwell points out is a bad idea.

  WhiteTruckMan 23:32 23 May 2007

are disposed of by incineration as hazardous waste.


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