Disposal of Medicines

Most part of people don’t know that exist a proper way to dispose expired medicines or those that are not been used anymore and put this in the regular trash.

The attitude, apparently inoffensive, can bring problems to the animals, to the nature and even to human beings.

The medicines when thrown in the trash, in the sink or when you flush it, releases chemical residues which contaminates the soil, the animals, streams and even rivers where the water we drink comes from. Each kilogram of medicine incorrectly disposed can contaminate up to 450 thousand litters of water!

Brazil is among the seven countries that consumes the most medicines in the world, but only exists a few or almost none campaign or advertisements when we talk about the right disposal to expired or no used medicines. That is why is very important to inform the population and to raise population awareness about the matter to avoid future environmental damages.

That is why we will give you some tips and suggestions about this matter.

Rational use of medicines

Use medicines rationally, without self-medication, follow the dosage informed on the prescription and do not interrupt the treatment by yourself.

Avoid Wastes

Do not buy medicines in big quantities to storage them at home. Always buy only the informed quantity on the prescription or if it’s going to be completely used, avoiding them to expire and it need to be disposed.

Photo: Divulgação Photo: Divulgation

Expired medicines must be taken to a collection point

The National Policy of Solid Residues – Law n° 12.305/10 - establishes the inverse logistics as a proper medicines disposal. When you find any drug expired in your house, you must take them back to a drugstore and they will refer it to a destination of decontamination and proper incineration.

However, not all pharmacies operate as collection points; you need to check with the establishment before taking the products.

Some private drugstores participate in the Conscious Disposal program and receive those medications. To find out where they are, simply access the program's website.

How to prepare the medication to a proper disposal?

The expired medicines or those the patient will not use anymore, as well as empty packages must be disposed properly.

The consumer should not remove the product from its primary packaging, which is the one in direct contact with the medication. In the case of liquids, the primary packaging is the glass or plastic bottle; in the case of pills, it is the aluminum blister.

The package inserts and cardboard boxes (secondary packaging) can be disposed of together with the medications at the collection points. However, since they haven’t had direct contact with the medication, they can be sent for recycling, just like any other paper.

In the case of syringes and needles, the legislation says anything about the collection by pharmacies and drugstores. If you use these products at home, we recommend storing them in plastic bottles with lids to avoid accidents. They should be delivered to hospitals or health centers, but check to see if they accept them before taking them.

What happens with this material properly disposed?

Those medicines are taken to places specialized in management and treatment (chemical or incineration) decreasing, this way, the volume and toxicity of these residues.