Here's Where You Can Dispose Of Old And Unused Medications & Why It's Important

"Don't just throw [your unused medications] in the rubbish bin or flush them down the sink or toilet!"

Cover image via University of Malaya & Sean Liew (Facebook)

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Recently, a pharmacist from Kuala Lumpur took to Facebook to highlight that there is a proper and safe way of disposing old and unused medications

Facebook user and pharmacist at Alpro Pharmacy, Sean Liew, said he was also guilty of not knowing until he entered the industry.

"Once upon a time, before I learnt about medicines — how they work and how they affect the environment — I also used to throw away unused medicines into the rubbish bin or down the sink," he began sheepishly.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Henry Ford Health System

He has since learnt that doing that had adverse effects to the environment and public health

"Hormonal medicines discarded in rivers can disrupt marine life and antibiotic pollution is contributing to the already problematic issue of antibiotic resistance," Liew said.

When antibiotics are misused or poorly disposed, common bacteria that may cause human infections will become resistant to the drug.

"Just imagine what will happen if one day antibiotics are no longer effective?" he asked.

Besides that, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH), throwing medications into the toilet or along with our common waste will end up contaminating our water sources.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Eat This, Not That

The pharmacist is now advocating the safe and correct way of disposing any unwanted or unnecessary medications that the public may have sitting in their drawers

Liew told SAYS that Alpro Pharmacy began a 'Safe Medication Disposal' campaign this year to increase awareness about the issue.

To encourage people to properly and easily dispose of their pharmaceutical wastes, he said anyone can walk in and throw their unwanted medications in the Unwanted Medication Disposal bins at any of their outlets.

"So, let's all do our part! Don't just throw [your unused medications] in the rubbish bin or flush them down the sink or toilet," he urged.

He added this initiative is free to everyone, as the costs used to incinerate and bury the waste is absorbed by the pharmacy.

He also clarified to other Facebook users that all medications that are disposed will never be recycled by any pharmacy for reuse due to risks such as not knowing how the drugs were stored.

Besides that, unused medications should never be given or donated to others. Excess medications should be properly disposed.

As also explained by MOH, "Doctors prescribe medicine to patients based on an individual's specific condition. The medicine that works for you may be harmful to others."

Besides Alpro Pharmacy, you can also dispose unwanted medications at any pharmacy facility in all MOH hospitals and health clinics

The ministry started the 'Return Your Medicines' programme in 2010.

Simply identify and place all medications that are expired, no longer used, damaged, or changed in physical appearance or colour in a box or paper bag and bring them to the pharmacy counter at any government hospital or clinic.

Medications can range from anything such as pills, capsules, suppositories, liquids, mixtures, creams, or gels.

CARiNG Pharmacy also offers to take in unwanted medications, but only at selected outlets.

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